NORC researchers collaborate NORC Hyde Park Lobby Sign A project team meeting
Children in a classroom View from NORC's Chicago Loop offices 
Children at the Library Laptop on books


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

From the Classroom to the Lab and Back: Instructional Strategies to Improve Children’s Early Math Skills. ​From the Classroom to the Lab and Back is a collaboration between researchers, practitioners and curriculum developers to develop, validate, and disseminate instructional strategies that advance the early math skills of 3 to 5 year old preschool children, particularly those from low-SES backgrounds. The collaboration is grounded in research demonstrating that early mathematics skills predict later achievement in mathematics. More

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

Partnership with Washington State to Estimate the Impact of High Schools on College Attendance. Using variance partitioning coefficients NORC at the University of Chicago will estimate the proportion of the chance of matriculation that is attributed to schools.  We will use the Washington Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems to estimate these parameters. More

Secure Data Access Facility (SDAF) for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The National Science Foundation awarded a contract to NORC to create a Secure Data Access Facility (SDAF) to house the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) data and metadata and to provide secure remote access and technical support to authorized researchers at the direction of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS). More

The Horatio Alger Association’s State of Our Nation's Youth Project. The 2012 State of Our Nation's Youth (SONY) project will collect information that provides a snapshot of attitudes among current high school students and graduates across a range of contemporary issues.  The primary aim of the project is to deepen our understanding of the myriad challenges our nation's youth face as they enter adult life in the current social and economic context.  More

See all Education projects


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News Star Tribune: NORC evaluated the Minnesota Reading Corps, and looked at how young children learn to read More
Posted: 4.2.2015 12:23PM
Sparks: The NORC Blog Carrie Markovitz: New Evaluation Shows AmeriCorps Members Help Close the Achievement Gap More
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
Posted: 3.30.2015 3:38PM
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
Posted: 9.18.2014 2:14PM