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Supporting K-12 Education

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It is a very exciting time to be in K-12 education. Schools are looking for innovative ways to accomplish their mission, so the need for actionable research and evaluation is greater than ever.

Jennifer Hamilton, VP
Education & Child Development

NORC specializes in providing K-12 educators and policymakers with the actionable evidence necessary to make the important decisions that impact student outcomes, both in and out of the classroom.

In 2014, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation funded the implementation of SEEDS of Learning in Oakland. SEEDS is a professional development program that uses evidence-based practices to nurture the language, literacy, and social-emotional skills children need to thrive. Earlier studies have shown that SEEDS is effective in increasing literacy scores of pre-K students. In early 2020, NORC and the Rainin Foundation partnered with the Oakland Unified School District and Education for Change Public Schools on a five-year study to understand if the impact of SEEDS on transitional kindergarten students persists through third grade and to identify the contextual factors that contribute to maintaining these gains.

Educating Youth for Positive Change (EYPC), a high school curriculum developed by the University of Illinois, combines civics education with student-led, project-based learning. With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are conducting a randomized control trial of the curriculum’s impact. EYPC follows a specific template: Students choose an issue they think is important to their community. They gather and analyze data, develop a strategic plan, engage the community, and then present their findings to the city council in a community forum.

The ultimate goal is to not just educate students, but to engage them in their communities and bring about positive community-wide change.

As part of its commitment to improving equity in college access, the College Board, creator of the SAT, has established a high-dose, virtual tutoring program designed to help low-income urban high school students in Chicago and New York City improve their SAT scores. The program’s goal is to push students’ math scores over 450, a value that is a commonly used threshold for college admission. The expectation is that, having reached this score, more historically underserved students will apply for, attend, and complete college. NORC has developed a randomized control trial to study the program’s impact on approximately 500 low-income students in Chicago and New York City. The study employs individual-level randomization to assess the impact of tutoring, and also measures the fidelity of implementation and cost effectiveness of the program.