Laura S. Hamilton

Photo of Laura Hamilton
Senior Behavioral Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in educational psychology, M.S. in statistics, Stanford University; M.S. in psychology in education, University of Pennsylvania; B.S. in music education, Duquesne University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Laura Hamilton is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and an adjunct associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Sciences and Policy program. Her research focuses on educational assessment, accountability, and the measurement and evaluation of instruction and school leadership. Recent projects include an evaluation of teacher and principal evaluation and compensation reforms in several districts and a study of educators' responses to state standards-based accountability policies. She has expertise in psychometrics; survey research methodology; and measurement of instructional practices, leadership, and reform implementation. She has served as an advisor to states and districts on the development of improved teacher and principal evaluation systems and currently serves on several state and national panels including the APA/AERA/NCME Joint Committee to Revise the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. She is also an editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and she recently chaired a panel on data-driven decision making for the What Works Clearinghouse. She received a Ph.D. in educational psychology and an M.S. in statistics from Stanford University.

Recent Projects

  • Study of responses to standards-based accountability
  • Teacher and principal evaluation
  • Measurement of instruction and school leadership practices
  • Design of accountability systems
  • Evaluation of principal leadership development program

Selected Publications

Hamilton, L.S., Engberg, J., Steiner, E.D., Nelson, C.A., Yuan, K., Improving School Leadership Through Support, Evaluation, and Incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program, RAND Corporation (MG-1223-PPS), 2012

Hamilton, L.S., Stecher, B.M., & Yuan, K., "Standards-based accountability in the United States: Lessons learned and future directions," Education Inquiry, 3:149-170, 2012

Hamilton, L.S., "Testing what has been taught: Helpful, high-quality assessments start with a strong curriculum," American Educator, 34(4):47-52, 2011

Hamilton, L.S. "Measuring teaching quality using student achievement tests: Lessons from educators' responses to No Child Left Behind.," in Kelly, S., Understanding Teacher Effects, Teachers College Press, 2011

Schwartz, H. Hamilton, L.S., Stecher, B.M., & Steele, J.L., Expanded Measures of School Performance, RAND Corporation (TR-968), 2010

Hamilton, L.S., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J., Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making, U.S. Department of Education, 2009

Hamilton, L.S., Stecher, B.M., Russell, J.L., Marsh, J.A., & Miles, J., "Accountability and teaching practices: School-level actions and teacher responses," Research in Sociology of Education, 16:31-66, 2008

Hamilton, L.S., "Assessment as a Policy Tool," Review of Research in Education, 27(25-68), 2003

Honors & Awards

  • President's Award, RAND Corporation
  • Outstanding Reviewer Award, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
  • Merit Bonus Award, RAND Corporation

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Education Daily; Education Week; Los Angeles Times; NEA Today; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; San Antonio Express-News; United Press International; New York Times

Commentary: Philadelphia Inquirer; Pittsburgh Business Times; Education Week; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette