Posts by Kirk Vandersall

We take capacity building seriously with our clients, but now its our turn! We are so happy to welcome three new members of the Arroyo Research Services team: Ariana Vasquez, Michelle Kennedy, and Martha Chavez. Together they not only increase our ability to meet the needs of our clients and partners, but they are bringing new experiences and skills to our team that include motivation research, meta-analysis, network analysis, and community-based research and organizing. We look forward to learning from our new colleagues as we work together. Read more about each, below.

Ariana C Vasquez, PhD is an Arroyo Research Services Senior Associate. Her work with ARS includes leading evaluation of Roots to STEMs, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project that seeks to increase access and performance of historically underserved students in the sciences, leading evaluation of FILTERED, a genomics education simulation developed by the Hudson Alpha Institute, and supporting projects that include community based teen optimal health, pregnancy prevention and migrant education programs.

Prior to joining Arroyo Research Services, Vasquez was a Research Associate at Colorado School of Mines, where she conducted in-depth research around engineering teaching and learning. Specifically, she conducted research on evidence-based teaching practices and educational development at the STEM university. As a Survey Team Manager with GLG in Austin, TX Vasquez designed and conducted surveys, led a small team, and assisted in large scale data collection. As a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in the Development and Motivation Lab, she conducted meta-analysis research around racial and ethnic socialization practices. Vasquez was a program manager and project evaluator for the Bullock Texas State History Museum where she designed program evaluations centered on increasing diversity among museum visitors and on a museum expansion project. Her work experience while a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin included time at the Charles A. Dana Center, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and as a project manager for a large-scale longitudinal research study in high school science classrooms. Vasquez was a classroom teacher for 5 years, primarily teaching 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts at a charter school in south Dallas, KIPP: TRUTH Academy. Dr. Vasquez holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and an MA in Program Evaluation from The University of Texas at Austin, and an MA in Education and BA in Psychology from Austin College in Sherman, TX.

Michelle Kennedy is an Arroyo Research Services Associate responsible for program evaluation, report preparation, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and survey design. Her work with ARS includes National Science Foundation (NSF) grant evaluation planning for California State University, Fullerton; quantitative data analysis and report development for 21st Century Community Learning Center evaluations; DoDEA evaluation reporting for Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL) and others; and analysis and reporting for university student success initiatives.

Michelle Kennedy is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on educational policy and planning. Her research interests include policy networks, housing’s impact on education, assessment and equity. Prior to joining Arroyo Research Services, she worked as a research assistant with EPIC (Expanding Pathways in Computing) where she focused on STEM program evaluation, student access and inclusion for project that included We Teach CS, the UTeach Expansion program, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation  (LSAMP), and the NOYCE scholarship program at Columbus State University. Kennedy was a classroom teacher and school administrator for 10 years, focusing on English Language Learner, and holds an M.A. in Education from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Fullerton.

Martha Chavez is an Arroyo Research Services Research Associate responsible for supporting program evaluation, report preparation, and technical assistance in a variety of capacities. Her work with ARS includes work with Be You at Project Vida Health Center, an NIH-funded teen optimal health and pregnancy prevention program in El Paso, Texas, evaluation support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Socorro, Texas, and work for statewide migrant education programs in Florida and New York. Prior to joining Arroyo Research Services, Chavez worked as an organizer, advocate and analyst for border rights, labor, and education organizations. She was a Research Associate at Texas Tech University Health Science Center where she managed behavioral, biological and clinical research studies, a Research Consultant for the New York Academy of Medicine, Research Associate for Class Size Matters (NY), Community Researcher for Reboot and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ, NY), field researcher for Center for Court Innovation, Research Analyst for SEIU 32BJ, and Research and Evaluation Coordinator for Safe Horizon in New York City. For the City University of New York Chavez conducted applied research on topics including Occupy Wall Street demographic data analysis and Hurricane Sandy Relief Contributions by low-wage workers, including research design and implementation, data analysis, and policy recommendations. She was Coordinator of Advocacy and Organizing for New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) in NYC and was Human Rights Documentation Coordinator for the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas. Chavez holds a Masters in Public Administration with specialization in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from the Baruch College Marxe School of Public and International Affairs in New York City, and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Continue reading

Arroyo Research Services is pleased to invite applications for new positions in our growing national migrant education services practice: A Statewide Field Services Leader, a Data Specialist for the Tennessee Migrant Education Program, and multiple Recruiters for the Tennessee Migrant Education Program. The Migrant Education Program (MEP) is a program established by the United State Department of Education. Arroyo Research Services is responsible for the implementing major components of the statewide Migrant Education Program in the state of Tennessee. The fundamental purpose of the program is to remove barriers to academic success for migrant children (ages 3-21) and promote academic achievement.

About Arroyo
Arroyo Research Services is an education professional services firm that uses the tools of social science to help school districts, state departments of education, universities and education organizations achieve the highest standards of educational excellence and equity. Our services include research, measurement and evaluation, strategic planning, technical assistance, and migrant education program support. Our work includes programs designed to advance educational outcomes for underrepresented youth from birth through college, serve migrant youth and families, build optimal health among teens, increase STEM learning and educational attainment, and promote STEM-related innovation. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the firm was founded in 2005 in Los Angeles.

Who We Serve
We care most about projects that seek positive social change through educational programs. These include programs designed to improve educational outcomes for the children of migrant farm workers, providing a pathway to and success in university STEM programs and careers, promoting women in technology, achieving optimal health among teens in distressed communities, and ensuring access to culturally responsive teaching of mathematics and science. Recent clients include the State Education Agencies of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky , Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; school districts including Fairfax County Public Schools (VA), Hillsborough County Public Schools (FL), Columbus and Dayton Public Schools (OH), Baltimore County Public Schools (MD), and Socorro Independent School District (TX); organizations that include The Gallup Organization, Learning Forward, Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, Strada Education Network, and Reach Virginia; and universities including California State University, Fullerton, University of South Florida, University of Virginia, State University of New York and others. Our work is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense Education Activity, the Sandler Family Foundation, Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation and others.

How We Work
Work at Arroyo is both collaborative and independent. You work with a remote team with diverse experience across the United States. Team members are equipped as professionals with the computers, software, phones and connectivity to succeed. We use a variety of industry standard communication, project management and analysis tools including Google Workspace, Zoom, Microsoft Office, Asana, Harvest, R statistics, and others. You will receive regular feedback on your work designed to help you grow as a professional.

Who Should Apply
Arroyo Research Services is committed to inclusion and diversity and is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome applications without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, Veteran status, or other legally protected characteristics. DACA recipients are encouraged to apply.

To Apply

  1. Review the specific job description: Statewide Field Services Leader, Data Specialist, Recruiter
  2. Submit an email to that includes a cover letter and resume. Include the position title in the email subject line. Make sure document file names include your first and last name, e.g. or similar.
  3. We will respond to each submission with next steps.
Continue reading

When asked publicly or privately about high stakes assessments for teachers and schools, we always say the same thing: don’t go there. Using value-added models based of student test scores to reward or punish teachers misdiagnoses educator motivation, guides educators away from good assessment practices, and unnecessarily exposes them to technical and human testing uncertainties. Now, to be clear, we do use and value standardized tests in our work. But here’s a 10,000-foot view of why we advise against the high stakes use of value-added models in educator assessments:

  1. Using value-added scores to determine teacher pay misdiagnoses teacher motivation.

When Wayne Craig, then Regional Director of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for Northern Melbourne, Australia, sought to drive school improvement in his historically underperforming district, he focused on building teachers’ intrinsic motivation rather than the use of external carrots and sticks. His framework for Curiosity and Powerful Learning presented a matrix of theories of action that connect teacher actions to learning outcomes. Data informs the research that frames core practices, which then drive teacher inquiry and adoption. The entire enterprise is built on unlocking teacher motivation and teachers’ desire to meet the needs of their students. (more…)

Continue reading

Our past two posts covered both the “why” of measuring implementation and some of the common challenges to doing so. In this third and final post, we’ll look at what is most useful to measure.

Implementation measures are particular to each program and should take into account the specific actions expected of program participants: who is doing what, when, where, how often, etc. Participants may be teachers, students, administrators, parents, advocates, tutors, recruiters, or institutions (e.g., regional centers, schools, community organizations). Specific measures should help stakeholders understand whether, how, and with what intensity a program is being put into place. Moreover, for programs with multiple sites or regions, understanding differences among them is critical.



Continue reading

In our last post, we shared four reasons why educators should be measuring implementation: here we’ll look at four common challenges to strong implementation measurement.


1. Differential definitions. What happens when different units of your program operate with different working definitions of a measure?

Take tutoring, for example, in a multi-site program, where each site is asked to report the number of hours per week a participant is tutored. Site A takes attendance and acknowledges that, although the after school program runs for 1.5 hours, only .5 hours are spent tutoring. So Site A reports the number of days a student attends, multiplied by .5: e.g., if Jose attends for 3 days, Site A reports 1.5 hours of tutoring. Site B calculates 1.5 hours of tutoring per day times 5 days per week, per participant: So if Jose is a participant that week, regardless of how often he attends, Site B reports 7.5 hours of tutoring. (more…)

Continue reading
Back to top