About Us

American Institutes for Research is a national leader in teaching and learning improvement, providing research, assessment, evaluation, and technical assistance to ensure that all students—particularly those facing historical disadvantages—have access to a high-quality, effective education. Established in 1946, AIR is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of education, health, and workforce productivity.

Staff in AIR’s Education, Human Development, and Workforce program work to illuminate the root causes of the most pressing education and workforce challenges and to measure the impact of the best-known solutions. We ask the difficult questions to increase the field’s understanding of what works and why, and our answers drive positive change.

Improving Schools and Districts

AIR is recognized across the country as a strong provider of both lead and support turnaround and transformation services. AIR currently leads the turnaround and transformation efforts in four schools in Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan and we are approved lead or supporting partners in several additional states. Our work extends beyond the School Improvement Grant (SIG) services and includes significant experience at the district and school level auditing curriculum, developing improvement plans and coaching staff on analyzing data and integrating data-driven decision-making into their daily practice. Our staff work with districts to create early warning systems that signal when students are at risk of falling behind their peers and potentially dropping out of school.

 Refining Teacher Evaluation Systems

As states and districts begin to dramatically change how educators are evaluated, they are turning to AIR staff to improve evaluation systems. AIR is currently working with states – including Washington State, Ohio, and Massachusetts – and individual districts to devise value-added models of student growth, contribute to the rubrics that contain the indicators and elements of good practice, and develop and implement training to school leadership teams on the new evaluation frameworks.

Learn more at www.educatortalent.org and click on evaluation and professional growth to learn about the Performance Management Advantage services and resources.

 Contributing Sound Research

AIR researchers are contributing to the field’s knowledge of sound district and school improvement practices. AIR’s Rebecca Herman, Ph.D., a managing research analyst, chaired the expert panel that produced the 2008 Institutes of Education Sciences’ (IES) Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools practice guide. The IES practice guides provide practical recommendations for educators to address the everyday challenges they face in their classrooms and schools. 

AIR staff are leading several key studies of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program for the U.S. Department of Education. The Study of School Turnaround examines the turnaround process in 45 SIG-funded schools, including schools with a high concentration of English learners and rural schools. In a separate federally-funded study, our researchers are identifying the schools that have achieved rapid improvements in student outcomes in a short period of time,  illuminating the complex range of policies, programs, and practices used by these turnaround schools.  AIR researchers are also analyzing the impact of Race to the Top and SIG grants, evaluating the changes in schools, districts, and states as a result of these national reform initiatives.


Applying Evidence-based Practices

AIR provides support to Doing What Works, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education providing the resources and tools for educators and administrators to improve student outcomes. Doing What Works recommends practices supported by rigorous research and provides concrete examples on applying these evidence-based strategies to day-to-day practice.

AIR also is an integral part of the Department’s technical assistance and dissemination network. AIR operates the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, National High School Center, Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center, and Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center. IES supports 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) across the country, which are charged with supporting applied research and development, disseminating school improvement practices widely, and providing technical assistance to education agencies in their regions. AIR operates REL Midwest. AIR also operates the National Charter School Resource Center, the National Center on Response to Intervention and the newly created National Center on Intensive Interventions for the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education.


Since the beginning of the 2005–06 school year, AIR has worked with 34 districts across New York that have failed to meet academic standards to create customized plans for improving their performance based on our comprehensive audit of the written, taught, and tested ELA and mathematics curricula. Our audits have reached more than 630,000 students in kindergarten through Grade 12 in urban, suburban, and rural school districts in New York State and New York City. Of the 34 districts that were audited, 17 are now in good standing.

Selected Clients

  • Amarillo Independent School District (Texas)
  • Buffalo School District (New York)
  • Chicago Public Schools (Illinois)
  • Decatur Public Schools (Illinois)
  • Elkhart Community Schools (Indiana)
  • Hazelwood School District (Missouri)
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Missouri Department of Education
  • New York State Education Department
  • New York City Department of Education
  • Rocky Mount Preparatory School (North Carolina)
  • Romulus School District (Michigan)
  • Springfield Public Schools (Illinois)
  • Syracuse City School District (New York)
  • Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (Washington state)