Evaluating Arts Education: The Art of Mixing Methods for Measuring Creativity

Arts-based education initiatives often have nuanced outcomes that are challenging to accurately quantify. Furthermore, in the era of standardized testing, researchers and evaluators are often asked to link arts education programs to test scores. Yet, given the limited quantitative research in arts education, creating and utilizing valid and meaningful quantitative measures into an arts-based evaluation can contribute a unique perspective to our understanding of the role of the arts in education. This presentation discusses how an evaluation of the Poetry Out Loud program attempted to quantify arts education outcomes via a quasi-experimental design incorporating survey and administrative data. In addition to outlining the study’s design, this presentation discusses challenges with creating valid measures and reflects on the limitations of the approach. Furthermore, speakers raise considerations and future opportunities for ensuring that quantitative studies of arts education meaningfully capture student outcomes. To conclude, this presentation encourages the audience to think about the purpose of evaluation, to deconstruct how we think about “evidence” when considering evidence-based research in arts education and who decides what is “credible”, and the importance of asking those questions to ensure that evaluations produce meaningful results and are relevant and useful for programs and practitioners.

Dr. Rachel Estrella is a Senior Associate with specialized expertise in racial equity initiatives, early childhood education, educational access, multicultural evaluation methods, foundation grantmaking, and the arts. She has managed and led a range of projects at SPR, including a number of projects related to diversity-related grantmaking and evaluation, capacity-building for organizations serving communities of color, effective academic supports for marginalized students, and effective advocacy. She also has extensive experience as a technical assistance provider, meeting facilitator, and curriculum developer. Prior to her work at SPR, Dr. Estrella worked as a Senior Project Associate at Fern Tiger Associates, where she worked with nonprofit organizations in strategic planning and communications, and at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, where she worked as a Senior Researcher addressing issues of educational access for students of color. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she had a dual concentration in urban schooling and the use of the arts in popular education and civic engagement. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Laura Pryor is a Senior Associate at SPR with expertise in culturally responsive evaluation, survey design and analysis, quantitative research methods, and formative and summative evaluation designs. She began her evaluation career in 2011 as an American Evaluation Association Graduate Education Diversity Intern and has since worked on numerous evaluations focusing on K-12 education, youth development, offender reentry, and higher education. Dr. Pryor received a Ph.D. in Quantitative Methods and Evaluation from the University of California Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Her doctoral research focused on the ways in which quantitative methods can align with a culturally competent approach to evaluation. Additionally, she received an M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jennifer Hogg is an Associate with experience in mixed-methods research related to education policy and practice. She has worked on topics including teacher demand and supply, charter schools, higher education loan repayment, summer learning, and student diversity in public schools. Before joining SPR, Ms. Hogg conducted research for the US Office of Management and Budget’s education division and Berkeley Unified School District. She previously taught 8th grade mathematics in North Carolina. Ms. Hogg holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA from the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 2:00pm
Berkeley Way West
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