The Education Research Center (ERC) is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of researchers with expertise in special education, high school reform, teacher education and teacher performance. Our researchers have experience in performance measurement design, classroom observations, interviews and focus groups, quasi-experimental design, and randomized field trials. Our researchers work in teams to collect primary data, design and administer assessments, analyze data, and monitor and evaluate educational programs. Combining knowledge and experience from the fields of sociology, economics, public policy, statistics, international education and development, and educational psychology, Optimal’s ERC team is versatile and continually keeps up with the most innovative and efficient methodologies and technologies to provide ground breaking analyses to government, non-governmental organizations, and private sector clients.

The ERC uses the full range of research methodological techniques—including randomized field trials, classroom observations, structured and semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and surveys—when designing and implementing research studies. ERC researchers have presented and published government reports, refereed journal articles, and books. For instance, see Implementation of the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program and Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It.

The staff also utilize state of the art technology and analytic tools such as SAS and Stata statistics software packages to analyze both small and large datasets from secure servers that are compliant with the U.S. Department of Education security standards.

Optimal's ERC team has subject matter expertise in these areas:

  • Academic achievement;
  • Charter school financing;
  • Charter school performance;
  • Early childhood development;
  • Performance measurement design;
  • Policy (e.g., No Child Left Behind);
  • Summer learning;
  • After school programs
  • Special education; and
  • Title I and IV compliance.


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