The paper explores the issue of innovation in educational practices and lifelong learning within a particular type of educational services: residential child and youth care. The reading key used is the evaluation, intended as a device for reflecting on action, with the opportunity to regulate it in progress, in order to promote quality improvement logics, through the involvement of educational practitioners within participatory research approaches. The proposed challenge is to integrate the experiential knowledge of the practitioners with the critical function of transformative research, that aims the objective of producing an improvement in educational practices and social policies, through the evidence based and the effectiveness of the interventions. In this theoretical framework, the research path carried out in the Sardinia region is described, starting from the participatory construction of a model of self-evaluation of the educational quality of the resdiential care to its first validation in the field, marking out the main results and developments.
Keywords: Evaluation, quality, residential care, improvement, innovation.