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Joint Center for Education Research

​An integral resource for NORC’s Education and Child Development Studies department, the Joint Center for Education Research (JCER) coordinates research activities with the University of Chicago faculty from the Committee on Education and other academic units as well as with education researchers at research institutes affiliated with the University of Chicago. University faculty members affiliated with the JCER are drawn from the departments of Sociology, Economics, Psychology, and Comparative Human Development; the Irving B. Harris Graduate School for Public Policy Studies, and the School of Social Service Administration.  JCER affiliates also include prominent researchers from University-based research organizations including the Consortium on Chicago School Research and the Urban Education Institute, Chapin Hall, and the Center for Evaluation of Mathematics and Science Education. 


The JCER seeks both to provide a home at NORC for faculty-initiated and directed grant-based research projects and also to include University of Chicago faculty and researchers in expert advisory roles within NORC contract-based education projects conducted for federal and state agencies and private foundations.


A project that exemplifies this collaborative work is Improving Children’s Early Math Skills: From the Classroom to the Lab and Back, which is supported by the Foundation for Child Development, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. A team of co-investigators from NORC, the University of Chicago’s Committee on Education, the Urban Education Institute, and the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, is creating instructionally relevant tools for assessing the literacy and math skills of children from ages three through four. These new tools will integrate and connect with existing K-3 tools used in over 100 schools throughout the country.


NORC’s recent project Evaluation the Growth Model Pilot Project for the U.S. Department of Education exemplified the use of leading academic experts from the University of Chicago and elsewhere to help guide a study’s design and the analyses of the data collected. The project drew on states’ longitudinal data systems to assess the impact of using measures of students’ growth in reading and mathematics achievement for school accountability purposes.  

Areas of Expertise

  • Education
    • K-12 Student Achievement
    • STEM Policy and Education
    • School effectiveness and accountability
    • Teachers and Teaching
    • Transitions from Schools to College and the Workforce
    • Access to Higher Education
    • Higher Education Degree Attainmen

Major Capabilities

  • Education Policy and Program Evaluation Research
  • Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design and Analysis
  • Data Analysis, Report Writing, and Dissemination
  • Education Survey Design and Analysis
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Thomas B. Hoffer

(773) 256-6097

Senior Staff

Thomas B. Hoffer

Thomas B. Hoffer
Senior Fellow and Director, Joint Center for Education Research