Research & Evaluation

Making informed decisions requires big-picture understanding of context and nuanced understanding of data. McREL helps educators and leaders leverage their data for better decision making. Every school and education system has unique strengths, challenges, climates, and stakeholders. By collaboratively analyzing your data in your context, we’ll help you identify outcomes, uncover hidden challenges, and illuminate your bright spots, giving you the insights you need for continuous improvement.

McREL’s deepest roots are in education research. Since our founding in 1966, we’ve been turning knowledge gleaned from research into practical, effective guidance for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.

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"McREL helped our team identify the most critical behaviors for teaching inquiry."

− Western Kentucky University

"McREL made our processes organized and efficient with great data analysis and assistance to our stakeholders."

− Wyoming Department of Education

"McREL helped us narrow and focus our questions so we would get to what we most needed to know."

− Science4Us
Your Investigative Journey

Our collaborative, partnership-style approach ensures support at every stage—from co-authoring proposals and evaluation plans, to securing funding, collecting data, and reporting outcomes. We can also refine methods and processes at any point along your investigative journey to maintain integrity and viability and ensure accurate and useful reporting. We’ll give you contextually relevant recommendations and practitioner-friendly reports that you can use to develop, modify, and sustain your efforts.

Our researchers and evaluators can prepare studies, reports, and technical briefs, as well as provide technical assistance and consulting on logic models and theories of action; large-scale studies of federal and state programs; research syntheses and meta-analyses; causal-comparative studies; quasi-experimental studies; rigorous, randomized control trials; and case studies.

McREL can support and strengthen your research and evaluation efforts at any stage along your investigative journey.



  • School improvement initiatives
  • Securing funding sources
  • Application design
  • Interventions
  • School climate improvement
  • Teacher preparation program review
  • Curriculum planning, review, audit, and alignment
  • Classroom evaluation and assessment
  • Teaching and instruction improvement
  • 1-1 device initiatives


  • Developing clear theories of action
  • Proposal and grant writing and review
  • Needs assessments
  • Literature reviews
  • Iterative improvement cycles (improvement science; design-based research)
  • External third-party audits, evaluations, and reviews
  • Case studies and descriptive studies
  • Meta-analysis and research synthesis
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs
  • Process and implementation studies


  • Instrument development and validation
  • Data collection: paper-based and/or electronic surveys; assessments; conversations (interviews or focus groups); observations; extant document reviews
  • Secure, private data handling
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping


  • Comprehensive, practitioner-friendly reports
  • Analyses aligned to questions and data: traditional and cutting-edge quantitative and/or qualitative analyses
  • Actionable recommendations and valid conclusions
  • Success stories
  • Expertise in federal reporting requirements
Consulting Services
Group of educators

Making Sense of Data

Using data effectively is at the heart of continuous school improvement, and our experts can help your school or district become more systematic about your approach. Our consultants deliver training on using a four-step data-driven decision-making process and fostering a data-driven school culture. Our evaluators provide services and training to help you and your staff collect and analyze data more effectively and develop and implement program logic models and performance indicators and measures.


Monitoring Improvement Efforts

When schools begin new initiatives, they often don’t see the immediate benefits of their work. We’ll show you how to monitor and adjust the implementation of an initiative, including how to use the right tools, measure effectiveness, and make adjustments to increase effectiveness.

Support for ESSA Improvement Initiatives

Current U.S. education law, known as ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act), states that K–12 schools and districts across the U.S. should use “evidence-based” activities, strategies, and interventions. We can help your school or organization through every step of the U.S. Department of Education’s recommended 5-step process for improvement initiatives: 1) identifying local needs; 2) selecting relevant, evidence-based interventions; 3) planning for implementation; 4) implementation; and 5) examining and reflecting on outcomes.