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A strong belief in the power of education to transform lives and strengthen our position in the global economy fuels tremendous effort among government entities, educators, parents, and students, as well as significant investment in educational institutions and reform. Despite this, persistent economic and social forces can constrain the ability of our society to deliver on the promise of education and nurture an environment of achievement.

At NORC, we work to understand the entire spectrum of education, from the needs of the very young pre-school population to the personal and institutional benefits of advanced degrees earned by the most well-educated citizens.

Since its earliest wartime studies on the impact of the GI bill and public views of the federal role in schools, NORC has been a leading contributor to educational research. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, former NORC director Peter Rossi and scholar James S. Coleman conducted the first rigorous, scientific evaluation of schools with the Study of High School Climates and other studies that explored school busing and desegregation. These pioneering efforts in large, longitudinal studies—multi-round surveys of tens of thousands of students—led to our partnership with the U.S. Department of Education for The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 as well as a related project, the well-known High School and Beyond. In higher education, projects like the Survey of Doctorate Recipients provide invaluable data about the demographics, careers, and institutional investment of this population.

These advanced data collection capabilities have helped solidify NORC’s reputation for extraordinarily high response and retention rates in long-term studies. Additionally, NORC plays a strong role in educational analysis and evaluation. Indeed, many of the insights gained through educational research have resulted in interventions such as Head Start, Federal outreach programs, and the No Child Left Behind law—all of which NORC and its partners helped evaluate. For example, with the Growth Model Pilot Project under No Child Left Behind, NORC evaluated student assessment based on a growth model—a potentially more effective alternative to current measures.

The field of educational research also showcases one of NORC’s strongest capabilities: the ability to bring together multiple partners and disciplines into fruitful collaboration. Our role in the large scale National Survey of Early Care and Education—the first study on the topic in 20 years—brings together interdisciplinary scholars and multiple organizations to arrive at a fresh and multi-faceted look at today’s child care supply and demand issues.

Specific areas of expertise include:

Representative Projects

Education and Transition to Adulthood. This project’s key research question is ‘How does schooling, and specifically individuals’ experiences in postsecondary education, influence health trajectories and early adult labor force and family formation?’ More

Evaluation of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. On behalf of NSF, NORC is conducting a study that will provide rigorous evidence of the impact of the GRFP on individuals’ educational decisions, career preparations, aspirations and progress, as well as professional productivity; and provide an understanding of how the program is implemented by universities and whether and how specific program policies could be adjusted to make the program more effective in meeting its goals.

Growth Model Pilot Program Under No Child Left Behind (GMPP). The GMPP is an ambitious effort to improve how student achievement data are analyzed and used to assess the effectiveness of schools and school systems under the accountability provisions of the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). More

Harvard Faculty Policy and Benefits Survey. NORC was awarded a subcontract from Frank Dobbin of Harvard University for a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded pilot study on the efficacy of faculty diversity policies and programs. By collecting data from universities about which policies and programs they have in place and when they were in place, and comparing this data to historical university employment data, Dr. Dobbin will examine the effects of various diversity policies and programs on the demographic composition of their faculties.  More

High School and Beyond Follow-up Survey. NORC, in partnership with the University of Texas Austin, has continued the High School and Beyond (HS&B) Study. With grant funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Institute for Education Statistics, NORC conducted a follow-up study with the 1980 sophomore cohort of the HS&B sample. This project re-contacted the nationally representative HS&B sophomore sample members (N=14,825) just before most turned 50 years old.  This follow-up survey collected some current information on sample members' labor force experience, health status, family roles, and expectations for continued work and retirement.  These data will become part of a robust data source that will also include data from the 1980 base year survey and from the four follow-ups that took place between 1982 and 1992. This valuable resource will be used to study a number of issues related to the consequences for midlife health and labor force participation of adolescent and early adult circumstances and characteristics. More

See all Education projects


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Posted: 3.31.2015 12:23PM
News The Washington Post: The Impact and Process Evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps Program gives insight into how young readers may benefit from volunteers More
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News The New York Times: NORC's Impact and Process Evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC) Program sheds light on how young people learn to read More
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