Policy Studies Associates

Evaluation of Technical Assistance



U.S. Department of Education


A multi-year national evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers determined the extent to which Centers enhanced state capacity to support district and school improvement. A federally funded technical assistance initiative authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, the Centers help states use research knowledge and promising practices to direct and support their districts and schools in closing achievement gaps, particularly districts and schools where achievement continues to fall short. PSA, Branch Associates, Inc., and Decision Information Resources, Inc. conducted the evaluation for the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers—Final Report
National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers--Executive Summary


The evaluation concluded that the Comprehensive Centers had succeeded in developing a portfolio of services that met the charge set out in their authorizing legislation. In addition, customer reports on the usefulness of the centers validated principles of high-quality technical assistance and professional development. But the evaluation found that the centers’ lack of sufficient funding prevented them from working with the intensity necessary to produce major effects on educational change and improvement.

Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers Program: Final Report on the Evaluation: Volume 1
Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers Program: Final Report on the Evaluation: Volume 2
Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers Program: Final Report on the Evaluation: Volume 3Evaluation of the

National Science Foundation

Community Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) Resource Network

The Community Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) network is an NSF-funded resource for STEM education researchers and developers who have grants under the NSF’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program. From 2008 to 2014, PSA supported CADRE on issues of knowledge use, R&D partnerships, and the bridge between research and practice. PSA staff produced white papers on these issues and convened DR K-12 researchers and developers in work groups to learn from each other while jointly developing reports and tools.

Early Career Researchers and Developers in the DR K-12 Program: Needs, Supports, and Recommendations
Education R&D Partnership Tool
Practice-Engaged R&D in Education
R&D Partnership Brief
CADRE White Paper

REL West

the Regional Education Laboratory West (REL West)

PSA is a formative evaluator and thought partner for the Regional Education Laboratory West (REL West) at WestEd as it supports the school-level implementation of an elementary literacy curriculum and improvement science methods in the Washoe County (UT) School District. PSA provided feedback to WestEd and the Salt Lake United Way on how community school directors used an early warning tool and offered recommendations for improving the integration of the early-warning tool with schools’ systems and operations. PSA partnered with United Way Worldwide to evaluate collective impact initiatives focused on improving the capacity of local United Ways to collaborate with school districts and community organizations.


YMCA of the USA Afterschool Upgrade Pilot

PSA conducted an evaluation of the YMCA of the USA Afterschool Upgrade Pilot, targeted at building staff capacity through professional development and implementation of evidence-based strategies to support positive youth development outcomes. The evaluation explored the implementation and effectiveness of the Afterschool Upgrade Pilot with three foci: (1) the operation of afterschool program sites at local Ys; (2) organizational practices of Ys; and (3) supports, guidance, and refinements to consider in scale-up.



PSA evaluated Strengthening our Core, an initiative of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)designed to build the capacity of nonprofit provider organizations to support staff in implementing high-quality programs. Through this initiative, DYCD offered a year of intensive, high-quality capacity-building services to selected providers to enhance the organizational capacity and sustainability of provider organizations through improvements in fiscal management, organizational leadership, and programmatic planning.

National Governors Association

Early Care and Education (ECE) Project

For the National Governors Association, PSA conducted a two-year study to assess and support the NGA’s Comprehensive Strategy for Early Care and Education (ECE) Project, which targeted technical assistance and support to a select group of states, including governors and their staff, to refine and implement an ECE policy agenda that expands access and quality in opportunities for young children. PSA conducted surveys and interviews of state staff, reviewed state documents, and tracked of performance indicators to evaluate the extent to which the technical assistance led to desired state outcomes. PSA also assisted states in developing a Theory of Change (TOC) to help them assess their progress toward realizing their respective ECE policy agendas. PSA identified, clarified, and recommended specific ways in which NGA staff could provide targeted technical assistance to support specific state efforts to achieve their short- and longer-term ECE policy agendas. In addition, each state’s TOC mapped out a plan for sustaining project activities.