In Spanish, the word crecer means grow, and that’s our primary mission: to help educational and other community organizations to develop and evolve into the best they can be.
Our work is inspired by John Dewey’s call for the application of empirical tools to improve programs, embodied in the following quote taken from Democracy and Education: “Without initiation into the scientific spirit one is not in possession of the best tools which humanity has so far devised for effectively directed reflection.”
Who We Are
CRECE is a research and evaluation center within the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. CRECE’s co-directors are Kip Téllez, PhD and Eduardo Mosqueda, EdD, both professors in the Education Department at UCSC. Our partners include fellow UCSC researchers, evaluation specialists from other institutions, post-doctoral students, and undergraduates.
CRECE’s primary goal is to enhance the educational experiences and academic achievement of the children and youth who have been traditionally underserved in US schools. We seek to facilitate and expand educational evaluation and research while enhancing communication among university-based researchers, policy makers, and practitioners in support of the search for solutions to the education problems facing educators in underserved schools and other educational settings. As a regional, statewide, and national center for the evaluation of educational programs and policies seeking to improve the education of students of color, English learners, low-income students, immigrant children and families, virtually any group of students who have traditionally not fared well in the US school system.
What We Do
CRECE offers research and evaluation services to education centers, individual schools and school districts, as well as private foundations. CRECE develops customized evaluation plans tuned to the organization’s needs and budget. Our specific services include consulting, research design, program monitoring, data collection, survey and assessment development and administration, and in-depth analyses of quantitative and qualitative data. And unlike many evaluation consulting groups, we are experts in pedagogy and curriculum who have extensive experience in K12 and community college settings and are pleased to offer face-to-face meetings to share specific recommendations for program improvement. Given our collective expertise, our evaluation analysis will not only identify parts of programs that require attention, but our feedback will also provide specific suggestions of more effective instructional approaches to help guide program improvement.
Because we are a non-profit entity, our services are generally well below the costs of other evaluation firms. In addition, we hire University of California, Santa Cruz undergraduate and graduate students, whose majors represent a broad range of social science disciplines. These students are both compensated for their efforts, by either direct payment or academic credit, and are offered key experiences that will help them to grow into expert evaluators. Therefore, institutions using CRECE services can be confident that their resources are also engaged in preparing the next generation of evaluation specialists. We use the most advanced technology available, including computerized semantic analysis of qualitative data, which returns key themes and analyses quickly and reliably.
Our model of high-quality evaluation studies includes the following options for educational institutions and community organizations.
Design and Implementation Study: CRECE offers institutions “formative evaluation” case studies. This service includes the development of specifically design rubrics, on-site observations and interviews, and survey development to assess a program’s design components and its impact on teachers, students, and parents. A Design and Implementation study typically yields quick and direct improvements to the program under review.
Development Study: CRECE can also conduct feasibility studies or pilots without comparison groups used to refine program design and gather evidence. Data typically includes stakeholder perceptions and extant data analyses. As a first step on the way to product or program implementation, a Development Study can offer initial evidence needed to be competitive for large grant applications. Institutions wishing to partner with CRECE on grant applications will choose this option.
Efficacy Study: CRECE is also experienced in providing information on the efficacy of program implementation in pilot setting or small treatment-group vs. comparison-group studies. Efficacy studies are designed as “proof of concept” efforts that inform the implementation of wider initiatives.
Effectiveness Study: CRECE also conducts scaled up “summative evaluations” and broadly conceived studies that offer in depth information on the success of an intervention or program. CRECE evaluators are highly skilled in conducting rigorous non-randomized (“quasi”) experimental studies or randomized controlled trials, including the use of propensity score matching.