The Region 8 Comprehensive Center (Region 8 CC) is supported by program evaluators who study the initiatives through which technical assistance is facilitated with State Education Agency (SEA) clients. Evaluation of technical assistance matters to both clients and Region 8 CC staff alike, helping both audiences understand how initiatives are implemented and how far reaching their impact is. Furthermore, evaluation enables Region 8 CC staff and clients to assess initiative progress and opportunities for improvement, information they can use to determine the best path forward to enact change.
Kim Cowley and Brooke Shelley are the evaluators for the Region 8 CC; here, they provide further insight into what evaluation entails and how it supports the CC’s technical assistance to SEAs.
Kim Cowley: We are learning from both Region 8 CC staff and clients about the importance of strong relationships, which can lead to deeper understandings of state needs and priorities, and how to best tailor services to meet those needs. Our SEA clients consistently provide high ratings of the quality, relevance, and usefulness of Region 8 CC services and are satisfied with both the amount of progress made and the services provided, which include thought partnership, critical friend feedback, and technical expertise, to name just a few. Based on client feedback, Region 8 CC technical assistance has helped make possible what may have been unachievable given state contexts and constraints. As one SEA client noted, “They’ve really been integral in this project. I would not be able to do this without them. There’s no way that we would have gotten to a level that we’re at today.”
Brooke Shelley: The Region 8 CC evaluation team is learning a lot from feedback provided by our external SEA initiative clients and from our internal staff about the impacts that their initiatives are starting to have. In Year 3, our data are starting to reveal the changes to SEA and SEA staff capacity that Region 8 CC staff have helped to facilitate. Our evaluation findings indicate that the relationships established by Region 8 CC with the SEAs and the focus on continuous improvement using client feedback from external clients helped enhance SEA capacity through outcomes such as new collaborative organizational structures within SEAs, connections with subject matter experts, and resources designed for educators. The feedback collected for the evaluation has been an important tool for understanding how our staff customize the TA services they provide to meet the needs of the SEAs within the contexts in which they operate.
- Evaluation of the Region 8 CC finds that strong relationships between Region 8 CC staff and clients is crucial to the effectiveness of collaborative initiatives.
- According to the client feedback, Region 8 technical assistance staff have provided high quality services to SEAs.
- Evaluation findings include evidence that SEAs are better equipped to pursue their initiative goals because of Region 8 CC services and partnerships.