Nitya Venkateswaran is a trained evaluator and researcher in the field of education and adult learning. She leverages culturally responsive and equitable evaluation methods to ensure the evaluation process and outcomes are in service of equity. Dr. Venkateswaran was a Leaders for Equitable Evaluation and Diversity scholar, a program dedicated to moving the field of evaluation toward social justice and culturally responsive and equitable assessment. At RTI she is part of the Transformative Research Unit for Equity, where she will build RTI’s capacity to implement culturally responsive and equitable evaluation methods across the institute. She leads TRUE’s Equity Training, developing and implementing professional development for RTI staff to use an equity lens in their research work. She provides consultation with various RTI staff across the institute on project and proposals to embed an equity perspective.
With expertise in program evaluation, qualitative methods, and multi-site studies, she has worked with a wide range of local, federal, and private foundation clients. Part of her evaluation portfolio focuses on school-community partnerships. She directed the implementation evaluation of the Hartford Community Schools Retrospective Study, which examined promising practices to implement programs and services for families and students, with particular attention to the operational conditions of community-based organizations and student outcomes. In addition, she co-directed RTI’s two-study evaluation of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program, a nationwide program that supports voluntary home visits between teachers, students, and their families. Using interviews and focus groups with over 300 educators and family members, the studies examine the implementation of the model’s core components and shifting mindsets and attitudes of educators and family members’ perspectives as a result of participating.
Her evaluations also focus on dismantling systems to improve post-secondary persistence for students furthest from educational justice. Dr. Venkateswaran directs the evaluation of the College Success Foundation’s in-person and remote coaching services provided to college including students who are first-in their family to attend college and students from low-income backgrounds. Dr. Venkateswaran also directs the evaluation of STEM Opportunities in Prison Settings, a National Science Foundation-funded partnership between Education Development Center, From Prison Cells to PhDs, teaching initiative at Princeton University, Operation Restoration, The Initiative for Race Research and Justice at Peabody College–Vanderbilt University and other partners are developing a national network to expand the number of culturally responsive STEM higher education programs.
Before joining RTI in 2015, Dr. Venkateswaran worked at several non-profit organizations serving youth in communities of color. She is a member of the American Evaluation Association. Her notable publications include In their voices: Young people and adults supported by FosterEd Arizona; Hartford Community Schools: A 10-year retrospective study; Mindset shifts and parent teacher home visits; and Stakeholders come first: Reflecting on lessons learned from prioritizing truth in evaluations. She is also contributing to Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation: Visions and Voices of Emerging Scholars, a publication currently in process.