CREDO Democratizes Data for a New Generation of Educators

CREDO | Data Visualization

A Revolutionary Take on Research Reporting

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University (CREDO) produces rigorous, non-partisan research and evaluation to enhance the body of empirical evidence, driving education policy decisions toward improved education outcomes for all students. They’re committed to ensuring their research impacts educators across the industry — but that can be a challenge.

Looking around, CREDO saw a model for disseminating research results that was stuck in the past. Researchers are trying to reach diverse audiences — educators, funders, state policy makers — and handing them all static, narrative documents. Oftentimes, it was only fellow research wonks who would read fully the hundreds of pages for the information they needed.

CREDO had an idea for something new: an interactive report format that allowed users to easily discover the information most relevant to them, ultimately making better use of the grant that led to the research (not to mention the months of labor put into it).

Macke Raymond, Director of CREDO, described our work together:

“I knew we were doing something ambitious,” she said, “And I had a sneaking suspicion we were doing something disruptive. I think I was right on both counts. There are times when an entire field walks through a door and it can never go back the other way. I think this is one of those times.”

A Bridge from Research to Practice

Our job was to help CREDO translate between two clusters of professionals: the technically-minded folks who create the research on the one hand, and the practically-minded folks who can use the research on the other. To facilitate this work, we had to understand CREDO’s content at a deep level.

“ProjectEd was willing to engage with an extremely fine level of granularity,” said Lauren J. Bierbaum, Senior Research Associate for CREDO, “which allowed us to speak the same language about the work we were doing and our goals for the project.”

Together we conducted an exhaustive review of all the data CREDO had produced for this trial report, rapidly iterating on new models of information architecture. We identified our key audiences from the outset, allowing us to constantly validate whether a given content strategy was successfully serving those who would be using this new interactive report.

“My team really appreciated the project management skill that ProjectEd brought to our work,” Lauren told us. “Having well-developed visions of the deliverables, being clear on what was expected from us and on what timelines — these things made our collaboration seamless.”

A New Path Forward

CREDO’s new approach has already made history. For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education has agreed to accept a report in this style as an official submission for evaluation.

“Our case worker at the DOE is excited about the usability and accessibility of this approach,” Macke reported.

The Department’s response is a testament to what we have achieved: a report that is welcoming and usable, but still deeply rigorous. It’s an approach with the potential to revolutionize the way educators understand their schools and their students.