We, the CREA community, mourn the loss of the Center’s Founding Director Dr. Stafford Hood, and we celebrate his legacy. Stafford brought us together as a family, and his vision created a unique space of collegiality, support, and intellectual exchange and dialogue. Stafford’s signature contribution to evaluation—the introduction and development of Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE)—has provided the ethical, conceptual, and methodological foundations of our collective work. Though words are hard to find to express the outpouring of love and support from our colleagues around the world, we write this joint statement in gratitude.[i]
Stafford spent a career moving assessment and evaluation toward equity and justice. He changed how we think about and practice inquiry. His work prompted us to critically reflect on what we learn and on how that knowledge is used. He did this by:
Stafford’s conceptualization of Culturally Responsive Evaluation is rooted in education and assessment. His early thinking that culminated in CRE began in education, specifically drawing upon the work of Carol Lee (1990) and Gloria Ladson-Billings (1995a-b) on culturally relevant pedagogy and that of Edmund Gordon (1995) and Sylvia Johnson (1998) in educational assessment. In 1997, Dr. Hood chaired a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Chicago.[iii]This conversation led Sylvia Johnson to organize a special issue of the Journal of Negro Education, 67(3), for which Hood served as Guest Editor.[iv] They asserted that pedagogy that is responsive to cultural strengths will engage and motivate students to perform better in school (Johnson, 1998). Stafford extended this logic to assessment, arguing that culturally relevant pedagogy requires assessment strategies that are congruent with its basic tenets and that student learning may be “more effectively assessed by using approaches that are also culturally responsive” (1998b, p. 189).[v] Hood both respected and challenged the thinking of the best measurement theorists of the day, calling upon us to reconsider “the cultural values that have defined psychometric constructs [and] the agreed-upon evidence that underpins their validity” (p. 191). This remains a timely challenge today (Hood, Frierson, Hopson & Arbuthnot, 2022).
From his conceptualization of culturally responsive assessment, Stafford then made the bridge to evaluation. He unfailingly reinforced the connection between assessment and evaluation and kept assessment squarely in the sights of evaluators.
Stafford first used the term “culturally responsive evaluation” in his presentation at the 1998 Stake Symposium, a festschrift honoring Robert Stake upon his retirement from UIUC.[vi]Stake’s inclusion of multiple value perspectives in his model of Responsive Evaluation created a compatible opening to bring explicit attention to culture. Stafford’s (1998c) description of “Responsive evaluation Amistad style” explicitly linked responsiveness to culture and cultural differences, emphasizing the importance of shared lived experience between the evaluators/observers and persons intended to be served and observed.
Stafford was a networker par excellence; he had a natural ability to bring people together and spark productive, sometimes provocative conversations. The year after the Stake Symposium, Stafford co-founded the Arizona State University’s national conference on the Relevance of Assessment and Culture in Evaluation (RACE). On the evaluation side, this coincided with the initiation of the American Evaluation Association’s Building Diversity Initiative (BDI), and Stafford’s wisdom was again sought as he was concurrently invited to join the BDI Oversight Committee and the Diversity Committee of the AEA.
The synergy of these conversations led to a series of grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), supporting a variety of interventions, evaluations, and theory development. Stafford joined with Dr. Melvin Hall to field test, evaluate, and revise the emerging theory under the signature of the Relevance of Culture in Evaluation Institute (RCEI). After shifting his academic affiliation to UIUC in 2008, Stafford realized his vision of a Center devoted to equity and justice in evaluation and assessment. He became founding director of CREA in 2011, and he once again gathered us into conversation. To date, there have been six CREA conferences, and a seventh is planned for fall 2023. Both the conference themes and the invited plenary addresses of CREA consistently give balanced attention to evaluation and assessment, international perspectives, and Indigenous knowledges.
While the overarching framework of CRE is inclusive, Stafford also emphasized the importance of cultural specificity. At the inaugural meeting of the African Evaluation Association in Nairobi in 1999, Stafford challenged the idea that evaluative standards developed in the United States should be adopted for use in African countries, arguing in favor of the African Evaluation Association starting anew to develop evaluation guidelines for African countries “by them, for them.” In a second example, Stafford collaborated with coauthors Pamela Frazier-Anderson and Rodney Hopson to craft an African American culturally responsive evaluation system, using the symbol of Sankofa (Frazier-Anderson, Hood, & Hopson, 2012).
Over three decades, Stafford schooled us in history that was absent in our formal training. Building upon his own experience, he elevated the contributions of African Americans and located social justice against a historical backdrop of exploitation and oppression, strength, and resilience. The Nobody Knows My Name[vii] project raised up distinguished African American scholars whose work was eclipsed and ignored by their white counterparts. This historical inquiry documented the contributions of scholars of color such as Edward L. Washington and Rose Butler Browne (Hood, 2001; Frazier-Anderson & Bertrand Jones, 2015), Reid E. Jackson (Hood, 2001; Hopson & Hood, 2005), Aaron Brown (Hood, 2001), Leander Boykin (Hood, 2001), Asa G. Hilliard[viii](Hood & Hopson, 2008) and Charles H. Thompson (Hood & Hopson, 2018) . These important stories both educate white evaluators on the major contributions of scholars of color and starkly reveal the omission of such stories in our professional training and literature. The value of this project for assessment and evaluation is substantial. One cannot claim to have considered culture fully if one is ignorant of history.
Stafford appreciated and respected the role of students as the future of evaluation (Hood, 2014), and he made mentoring a major priority through his research. Stafford also played a significant role as an instructor and mentor of the American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program from its inception in 2004, acting in his words “as one of the ‘uncles’ in the GEDI extended family” (2014, p. 110). He was generous with his time in supporting colleagues and students alike.
Stafford Hood embarked on a personal journey to understand the role of culture in assessment and evaluation, which he characterized as “nothing less than a lifelong endeavor” (Hood, 2004, p. 35). CREA stands as a tribute to his tremendous legacy. He was a cherished friend and esteemed colleague. He is deeply missed.
The obituary and statements below also provide background to the contributions to the lives of us so impacted by Stafford’s life and legacy:
[i] Portions of this statement were adapted from Karen Kirkhart’s recent introduction of Stafford at the 2022 CREATE: Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment + Teaching Effectiveness conference in Asheville, NC on the occasion of his receipt of the Jason Millman Memorial Award. The award is given to recognize giants in the field of educational research, measurement, and evaluation.
[ii] Master’s tools is a reference made to Audre Lorde’s foundational essay, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”, given in 1979 at the Second Sex Conference at New York University Institute for the Humanities.
[iii] Session 10.31, Building the bridge between culturally responsive pedagogy and performance-based assessment to assess African American students and teachers: A preliminary discussion. Panelists included Gloria Ladson-Billings, Gwyneth Boodoo, Carol Lee, Audrey Qualls, and Renée Smith Maddox.
[iv] Hood, S. (Ed.) (1998a). Assessment in the Context of Culture and Pedagogy (Special Issue). Journal of Negro Education, 67(3).
[v] Hood (1998b) was responding to the challenge issued by Edmund W. Gordon to make assessment more equitable.
[vi] Stake (1973/1983) had conceptualized responsive evaluation as an approach that is oriented more directly to program activities than to program outcomes, responds to audience requirements for information, and refers to the different value perspectives of local people in reporting the success and failure of the program.
[vii] The Nobody Knows My Name archival and historical evaluation project takes its title from the 1961 collection of essays by James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son.
[viii] Dr. Hilliard awakened evaluators in his 1989 AEA keynote address, “Kemetic (Egyptian) Historical Revision: Implications for Cross-Cultural Evaluation and Research in Education.”
Gordon, E. W. (1995). Toward an equitable system of educational assessment. Journal of Negro Education,64(3), 360–372.
Frazier-Anderson, P. N., and Bertrand Jones, T. (2015). Analysis of Love My Children: Rose Butler Browne’s Contributions to Culturally Responsive Evaluation. In S. Hood, R. K. Hopson, and H. Frierson (Eds.), Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice (pp. 73–87). Information Age Publishing, inc.
Frazier-Anderson, P., Hood, S., & Hopson, R. K. (2012). Preliminary Consideration of an African American Culturally Responsive Evaluation System.” In S. Lapan, M. Quartaroli, & F. Riemer (Eds.), Qualitative Research: An Introduction to Methods and Designs (pp. 347–372). Jossey-Bass.
Hood, S. (1998a). Introduction and overview: Assessment in the context of culture and pedagogy: A collaborative effort, a meaningful goal. The Journal of Negro Education, 67(3), 184-186.
Hood, S. (1998b). Culturally responsive performance-based assessment: Conceptual and psychometric considerations.The Journal of Negro Education , 67( 3), 187-196.
Hood, S. (1998c). Responsive evaluation Amistad style: Perspectives of one African American evaluator. In R. Davis (Ed.), Proceedings of the Stake Symposium on Educational Evaluation (pp. 101–112). University of Illinois
Hood, S. (2001). Nobody knows my name: In praise of African American evaluators who were responsive. In J. C. Greene & T. A. Abma (Eds.), Responsive Evaluation, New Directions for Evaluation, 92, 31–44.
Hood, S. (2004). A journey to understand the role of culture in program evaluation: Snapshots and personal reflections of one African American evaluator. In M. Thompson-Robinson, R. Hopson, & S. SenGupta (Eds.), In search of cultural competence in evaluation, New Directions for Evaluation, 102, 21-37.
Hood, S., & Hopson, R. K. (2008). Evaluation Roots Reconsidered: Asa Hilliard, a Fallen Hero in the ‘Nobody Knows My Name’ Project, and African Educational Excellence. Review of Educational Research, 78(3), 410–426.
Hood, S. (2014). “How Will We Know It When We See It?” A Critical Friend Perspective of the GEDI Program and Its Legacy in Evaluation. In P. Collins & R. K. Hopson (Eds.),Building a New Generation of Culturally Responsive Evaluators: Contributions of the American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program, New Directions for Evaluation, 143, 109–121.
Hood, S., & Hopson, R. (2018). Race and the production of knowledge in Black higher education: The legacy and contributions of Charles H. Thompson and theJournal of Negro Education in evaluation. In S. Graham, B. Foster, & J. Donaldson (Eds.).Transformation of higher education: Anthropological and policy perspectives (pp. 237-252). Information Age Publishing, inc.
Hopson, R. K., & Hood, S. (2005). An untold story in evaluation roots: Reid Jackson and his contributions toward culturally responsive evaluation at three-fourths century.” In S. Hood, R. K. Hopson, & H. T. Frierson (Eds.),The Role of Culture and Cultural Context: A Mandate for Inclusion, the Discovery of Truth, and Understanding in Evaluative Theory and Practice (pp. 85-104). Information Age Publishing, Inc.
Hood, S., Frierson, H. Hopson, R., & Arbuthnot, K. (Eds.) (2022). Culturally responsive inquiry in education: Improving research, evaluation, and assessment. Harvard Education Press.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995a). “But that’s just good teaching”: The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 1995a, 34(3), 159–165.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995b). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465–491.
Lee, C. (1990). How shall we sing our sacred song in a strange land? The dilemma of double-consciousness and the complexities of an African-centered pedagogy.”Journal of Education, 172(2), 45–61.
Johnson, S. T. (1998). The importance of culture for improving education and pedagogy. Journal of Negro Education, 67(3), 181–183.
Stake, R. E. (1973/1983). Program evaluation, particularly responsive evaluation. Keynote address at the conference, “New Trends in Evaluation,” Institute of Education, University of Gôteborg, Sweden, October 1973. In G. F. Madaus, M. S. Scriven, & D. L. Stufflebeam (Eds.),Evaluation models: Viewpoints on educational and human service evaluation (1st ed., pp. 287-310). Kluwer-Nijhoff.