Michele F. Zimowski

Michele F. Zimowski is a Senior Survey Methodologist in the Department of Statistics and Methodology at NORC. In that role, she oversees the design, measurement, and statistical data analysis components of specific projects and serves as a consultant in those areas on other projects. Zimowski has more than 25 years of practical experience in the design and analysis of large-scale surveys, and in the development and application of item-response-theoretic (IRT) methods to educational, vocational, and behavioral data.  

In recent years, Zimowski's contributions have largely been in the field of education with a focus on minority populations. From 2001 to 2010, she served as lead methodologist on two related projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: the Longitudinal Survey of the Gates Millennium Scholars and Non-Recipients and the Washington State Achievers Survey. Both projects were designed to assess the impact of the scholarship programs on the postsecondary success of low-income and minority students. She was responsible for the longitudinal design of the surveys, analysis of the survey data, and preparation of numerous reports for the Foundation. She also served on the Foundation's Research Advisory Board for the Achievers Program. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, she recently developed a survey design for a joint retrospective evaluation of six scholarship and support programs for underrepresented graduate students of color. Presently, Zimowski serves as the lead psychometrician on a research project developing measures of literacy and math skills for 3- to 4-year-olds and collaborates on several other projects.

Zimowski joined NORC's Research Center in Methodology in 1986. During her time at the center, she worked on a series of methodological studies evaluating the feasibility of two-stage testing in large-scale educational assessments. As part of that work, she developed an innovative automated system for generating second-stage paper-and-pencil instruments adapted to the ability level of each sample member in four areas of science. She also co-authored a report on the potential of two-stage testing for improving the data quality of NAEP and developed multiple-group IRT models for the analysis of dichotomously scored items. She then joined NORC's Statistics and Methodology Department as Co-Task Leader for Design and Psychometric Analysis on the Profile of American Youth component of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 97. Since joining the Statistics and Methodology department, she has served as project director or lead methodologist on research supported by a wide range of federal agencies, private foundations, and non-profit organizations, including the National Science Foundation, Statistics Canada, the Department of Defense, the Health Care Financing Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Zimowski is author or co-author of numerous articles and reports in the areas of survey methodology, measurement, and education. Her published work covers a broad range of topics--from reporting and reducing non-response in travel surveys to applications of full-information factor analysis to the successes and challenges of college-going minority youth. She has presented papers at the annual meetings of a number of professional organizations including the American Educational Research Association, the Psychometric Society, the National Council of Measurement in Education, and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Zimowski is also the first author of the BILOG-MG program, a leading item-response software package that features multiple-group as well as conventional IRT models for the analysis of dichotomously scored items. Over the years, she has participated in numerous sessions to train other professionals in IRT methodology and analysis.