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Rupa Datta

Pronouns: She/Her

Vice President & Distinguished Senior Fellow
Rupa excels in comprehending how education and social institutions improve well-being for people and communities, and enhancing research methods to advance this comprehension.

Rupa is a vice president and distinguished senior fellow in the Methodology & Quantitative Social Sciences department at NORC, and is a lecturer at the Harris School of Graduate Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.

Rupa’s two major areas of expertise are in 1) understanding the role of education and other social institutions in improving the well-being of individuals and communities, and 2) improving the research methods available to advance that understanding.

She has led major efforts in human capital research for over 20 years, focusing on multi-method, multi-mode complex research designs that combine surveys, administrative and commercial data, and a wide range of disciplinary approaches and analytic methods to answer pressing questions about education, employment, and their interconnections.

Since 2007, Rupa has led the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), including its design, data collections (in 2012, 2019, a COVID-19 Longitudinal Follow-up in 2020-2022, and 2024), and an active program of research on the supply of and demand for early care and education using the NSECE data. Rupa oversees all aspects of NSECE work: project management, data collection and design, supporting public use and restricted use researchers through training and technical assistance, developing methodological resources to advance the use of the NSECE data, and conducting and disseminating analyses. The NSECE is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

For 25 years, Rupa also served in a variety of leadership roles for the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY), 1997 and 1979 cohorts, sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an initial needs assessment for an NLSY 2026 cohort. Her work spanned questionnaire design, data collection management, survey methodological oversight, and provision of analytic resources to the research community. She has conducted NLSY-related analyses and data enhancements for a variety of agencies, including the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, the Census Bureau, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Education.

Rupa’s evaluation work includes the Evaluation of the 2010 Census Integrated Communications Program in support of the Decennial Census, the Cross-system Evaluation of the Administration of Children and Families Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System, and the Qatar National Educational Data System project.

Her methodological focus has been the measurement and improvement of data quality in surveys and administrative and commercial data. Rupa and co-authors received a Best Paper Award at the 2018 Administrative Data Research Facility conference and the 2019 Louis Brownlow Award for Best Practitioner Related Article published in Public Administration Review.

Rupa’s work has appeared in such journals as Health AffairsChildren and Youth Services Review, and Survey Methods. She is an experienced manager who has worked with federal, state, international, and foundation clients; directed teams with multiple subcontractors and consultants; and delivered timely and high-quality products on projects with teams of more than 1,000 staff members.

Project Contributions

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997

A new, younger cohort of the nation’s preeminent survey of labor force participation from teen years to retirement


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-System Evaluation

A first-of-its-kind evaluation to maximize the effectiveness of TTA provided to early childhood grantees


Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center

Promoting better use of data by state-based assistance programs


Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE)

Consumer Education & Parent Choice in Early Care & Education

Understanding how parents find and use information to make early child care decisions


Administration for Children and Families, Health and Human Services Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

Support for Analytic Capacity of the NSECE Data

Enhancing the analytic capacity of the NSECE’s public-use and restricted-use data


Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services

2024 National Survey of Early Care and Education

Examining early care and education after major disruption


Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services