Selected Research Projects by Category

School Reform

RAND has more than 40 years of experience evaluating and implementing school- and system-level reform, including standards-based reforms. Our projects include:

  • Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform Models
    Analyzed the implementation and effectiveness of comprehensive or “whole school” reforms in American education.
  • Evaluation of the Edison Schools Program
    Evaluated the privately owned but publicly funded Edison schools model in the United States. Provided systematic comparison of Edison schools with similar public schools.
  • National Analysis of U.S. Charter Schools
    Charter schools receive public funding but operate free from many traditional public school rules. This national project identified what is working well and not so well in charter schools in order to promote best practices.
  • Evaluation of the New York City Social Promotion Policy
    New York City ended social promotion and adopted a series of policies to aid children at risk of failing. RAND is evaluating this policy's effects on student achievement.
  • Evaluation of Cognitive Tutor Model
    Using random control trials, RAND is assessing the effect of a computer-based instructional technology on student learning.

Standards Assessment and Accountability

RAND is recognized as a world leader in developing new approaches for measuring student achievement and using assessment data to promote educational improvements. Projects include:

  • The Use of Value-Added Modeling to Assess Growth in Achievement
    Pioneered work on value-added methods, which compare students' test scores over time in order to identify teachers and schools that perform above expectations.
  • Standardized Testing in Arabic
    Collaborated with international contractors to develop the world's first independent standardized tests offered to students in Arabic.
  • National Longitudinal Study of No Child Left Behind
    Led the Congressionally mandated study of NCLB. The five-year study used national surveys to measure implementation and test scores to assess the effects of this major reform.
  • Implementation of Standards-based Accountability
    Complementing the project listed above, examined the implementation of No Child Left Behind in three states focusing on the subjects of mathematics and science.

Strategic Planning for Education

RAND has helped countries, states and local agencies to analyze their current performance and create options for their future. Projects include:

  • Assessment and Implications of Thirty Years of the California Public Schools
    Examined the history and status of the K-12 California schools across all functions and compared them to other states to identify progress and recommend future strategies.
  • Evaluation of Reform Initiatives in Syria
    Examined the relationships among Syria's education system, society, and economy. Evaluated reform plans and recommended strategies for improvement.
  • Design and Implementation of Comprehensive Standards-Based K-12 Education Reform in Qatar
    Analyzed the existing K-12 education system and recommended options for improvement. Provided implementation support for the chosen reforms with organization building, recruitment of contractors and senior staff, and continuous evaluation.
  • District Downsizing in Pittsburgh
    Using sophisticated statistical analysis, rank-ordered schools in terms of their contribution to student outcomes to inform decisionmaking on which to close.

Principals, Teachers and Teaching

RAND has many years' experience in examining principal and teacher preparation and practice in order to promote improvements. This work addresses incentives to motivate principals and teachers. Projects include:

  • New Leaders for New Schools Evaluation
    RAND is evaluating the effectiveness of this program to develop high-quality principals and place them in low-performing schools to drive improvements.
  • Principal Incentive Program in Pittsburgh
    Helped design and is now evaluating the principal pay-for-performance system in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
  • Measuring Teacher Quality in Los Angeles
    Combining several major data sets, currently investigating the relationships between teachers' certification and licensure, other teacher background characteristics and student achievement.
  • Incentives to Promote Teacher Quality in Mexico
    Evaluated the Carrera Magisterial program at its ten-year mark and provided recommendations for improvement. The project was the first Mexican program evaluation awarded to a non-Mexican organization.
  • New Instructional Practices in Mathematics and Science
    In a series of projects, documented new teaching methods and related them to student achievement on a variety of test measures.
  • Assessing the Implementation and Impact of Teachers for a New Era
    Tracked the progress of the Carnegie Corporation's efforts to improve teacher preparation in colleges of education and documented the challenges involved in changing them.
  • Evaluating California's Class-Size Reduction Initiative
    Evaluated a statewide program to reduce class sizes for kindergarten through grade three.
  • Gains Analysis for Use in Teacher Performance Assessments
    Currently developing and testing new statistical methods to use student test scores and other inputs to assess teacher performance.

Higher Education and Training

An important set of RAND work includes linking higher education to society and the economy. We also develop quality measurement techniques to improve the delivery of higher education. Projects include:

  • Supply and Demand for E-Skills in Europe
    Surveyed the employer demand for skills related to information and communications technology and the educational opportunities to acquire them.
  • A European Vocational Learning System for the 21st Century
    Outlined key attributes of a sound vocational education system in the United Kingdom and recommended government policies to best meet future needs.
  • University Reform
    Analyzed the organization and its performance to modernize and improve the university. Provided specific strategies, including the establishment of an independent governance structure, a common core curriculum, and performance management of faculty.
  • Strategic Planning for Higher Education in Qatar
    Used multiple sources of data to understand the links between higher education, labor markets, and society's needs. Recommended a strategy for developing new institutions and making the best use of foreign scholarships.
  • Evaluation of Brain Korea 21 Graduate Student Training in South Korea
    Developed a data-based approach to evaluating the Brain Korea 21 program, which funds graduate training at South Korea's universities.
  • In Pursuit of Prestige: Strategy and Competition in United States Higher Education
    Developed a new approach to understanding the challenges and successes in American higher education, using industry analysis of the role of markets, strategy, and competition in generating prestige.
  • The Collegiate Learning Assessment: Measuring Student Skills Achieved in Higher Education
    Developed measures of the critical thinking and reasoning skills students should acquire in college to contribute to the development of a test now in use by more than two hundred American colleges and universities to assess the value the institutions add to their students' education.

Early Childhood and Special Education

RAND has informed national and international debates on balancing the costs and benefits of early childhood education, including investing in universal preschool. In addition, our work on special education seeks to help all students learn and achieve. Projects include:

  • State Scale-Up of Universal Preschool Education
    Documented state policies and their consequences in the movement toward universal preschool.
  • Early Identification of Special Educational Needs
    Compared children with special needs before and after starting school to provide policy recommendations to promote early identification of special needs.
  • Understanding the Effects of Early Education on Later Achievement
    Explored the impact of full-day and half-day kindergarten on later achievement through the fifth grade. Identified important non-cognitive indicators of school readiness and later achievement.

Methodology Improvements

Under the auspices of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, RAND scholars offer courses and professional training opportunities on analytic methods. Courses include:

  • Program Evaluation Methods
    This course teaches the techniques used in program evaluation. It has been taught to professional staff in the Singapore Ministry of Education.