Category Archives: Books and journals

Evaluation of advocacy

The Harvard Family Research Project offers a number of publications and dialogues on evaluation potentially valuable across many evaluation contexts. A new publication on evaluating advocacy efforts has just been released. This suggests a shift in the focus of evaluation ~ in addition to programs, personnel, and products ~ to also include strategy, planning and action.

When Smart People Evaluate

2009-04-29-hpt_bookjacket-thumbMichele Lamont in How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment opens the Pandora’s Box of peer review, the primary form of evaluation in higher education. Lamont’s curiosity, like Pandora’s, reveals secretive deliberations that all too often amount to judgments of quality based on the similarity of the work being judged to that of the judges. Lamont examines differences across disciplines, highlights the tension between the idea of having independently established criteria and standards and the inevitability of situational deliberation on what is good or bad, and ultimately calls for a more open, transparent approach to evaluation in higher education. In this later move, she searches for the hope that Pandora found at the bottom of the box.

Lamont describes the details of her book in a short essay in the Huffington Post.

Serving the Public Interest through Educational Evaluation

This is a pre-publication version of a chapter that analyzes the nature of educational evaluation in a global, neo-liberalist world. The chapter includes some advice to evaluators on how to take back evaluation to serve democratic values, that is, the inclusion of all stakeholders (especially those most often shut out) and open deliberation about what it means for education and schooling to be good or bad.

This chapter will appear in Ryan & Cousins’ edited International Handbook of Educational Evaluation to be published by Sage.

Call for Proposals for New Directions for Evaluation

New Directions for Evaluation

Sandra Mathison, Editor-in-Chief

0787983942.jpgNew Directions for Evaluation (NDE), is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes empirical, methodological, and theoretical works on all aspects of evaluation. An NDE issue contains between 37,500 and 42,500 words, and usually consists of a brief editorial introduction and 6 to 8 chapters that address and develop the topic, method, or theme. Typically, an issue includes several authors, but single or co- authored issues will be considered. All proposals will be considered, and we especially encourage proposals that focus on the following topics:

History of evaluation: What is the genesis of evaluation as a discipline, as a profession, as a practice? How has evaluation evolved over time?
Worth of evaluation: Evaluation is difficult and costly. Do the benefits of evaluation warrant the costs, real and opportunity? What is the value of evaluation?
Human rights and evaluation: Much evaluation is focused on human service programs providing services to individuals and communities. How does evaluation effect, protect, acknowledge human rights? Are strategies like ethics review boards useful and appropriate in evaluation?
Causation and evaluation: What are the frameworks for understanding and establishing causation in evaluation? How can and should attribution of effects be made?
Qualitative-quantitative debate in evaluation: How has this debate effected evaluation methodology? Does this debate mask poor quality in either or both? What does the advocacy of mixed methods contribute to this debate?
Evaluation of complex systems: What can evaluation contribute, and how, in increasingly complex systems of program delivery (interconnections across levels of government, complex social systems, partnerships)?

Other topics of interest:

o evaluation in the small non-profit sector
o organizational self evaluation
o quantitative methods in evaluation (e.g. non-parametric statistics, HLM, latent trait theory)
o representation and reporting in evaluation (e.g. visual imagery, media, effective formats)

o conflict and dispute resolution and evaluation
o internal evaluation
o uses of technologies in evaluation (e.g. software, iPods, hand held devices, monitors, surveillance)
o evaluation of technologies (e.g. online learning, computers, internet)

More details about submitting proposals for NDE can be found at

Contact Sandra Mathison at

Defending Public Schools: The Nature and Limits of Standards Based Education and Assessment

View book cover
Defending Public Schools (Praeger Perspectives)
by E. Wayne Ross (Editor), David A. Gabbard (Editor), Kathleen R. Kesson (Editor), Kevin D. Vinson (Editor), Sandra Mathison (Editor) Review
“These volumes both summarize and provide detailed examples of how NCLB is affecting children, teachers, and communities…..Essential. All levels. Anyone interested in defending public schools.”–Choice

“Always thought-provoking and sometimes controversial, this balanced look at a vast and complicated system addresses upper-level undergraduates through faculty and is recommended for academic libraries or circulating collections.”–Library Journal

“Defending Public Schools is a four-volume set that does not have to be read all at once. With that caveat in mind, the set is valuable in total also allows the busy administrator to read sections of the books on an as-needed basis.”–The School Administrator

“The articles of this four-volume work present an urgent and sobering case for the destructive impact on American education of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.”–Reference & Research Book News

“This timely series critically addresses the educational debates resulting from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. From the perspective of national security to classroom assessment, the series analyzes the impact of this revolutionary legislation and other current educational proposals on democratic schooling and classroom practices. A thumbs up to the editors for their careful work in assembling this great series.” – Joel Spring, Professor Queens College City University of New York

“A collection for learning how the attacks on public education are being waged–and how to plan a defense against those that would destroy our educational system.” – David C. Berliner, Regents’ Professor Arizona State University