CREO Welcomes New Director

January 22, 2009

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Mark Berends, Ph.D., Director of the National Center on School Choice, has joined the Institute for Educational Initiative as the new director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO). Professor Berends, who most recently served as Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College is the successor to Maureen Hallinan, Ph.D., who has directed CREO for ten years.

Professor Berends has done extensive research on school organization and classroom instruction as they relate to student achievement, paying special attention to disadvantaged students. He has participated in several U.S. Department of Education national evaluations and has conducted studies investigating the causes and sources of black-white and Latino-white achievement gaps. In the 1990s, he led the summative evaluation of New American Schools (NAS), at the time the largest privately funded reform movement in the nation. His latest books are Examining Gaps in Mathematics Achievement Among Racial-Ethnic Groups, 1972-1992 (RAND, 2005), Charter School Outcomes (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2008), Leading with Data: Pathways to Improve Your School (Corwin, 2009), and the Handbook of Research on School Choice (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, In Press). He will teach sociology courses at Notre Dame.

“Professor Berends will make a singularly important contribution to the mission of the IEI,” says Fr. Timothy Scully, CSC, Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives. “The wealth of expertise and intellectual leadership he brings to CREO, particularly in the area of school choice, will enable us to make great strides in our work to give children and families greater access to excellent schools - especially faith-based schools. He will build ably upon the work of Maureen Hallinan, whose inspired leadership has built a wonderful foundation in the world of high impact educational research.”

Berends will continue in his role as director of the National Center on School Choice (NCSC), established in 2004 through a $13.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. The mission of the NCSC is to lead research across multiple disciplines on “how school choice affects individuals, communities and systems.”

“I’m excited about integrating the work of CREO and NCSC. In fact, CREO provides a broader umbrella for NCSC because of its emphasis on research on educational opportunity. Together the studies that NCSC and Maureen Hallinan have undertaken position CREO to make significant contributions to educational policy and the field of sociology. What’s more, they provide a foundation for CREO to bring in additional funding so we can continue this line of research-research that’s essential, since issues of educational equity and excellence will be critical for years to come,” says Berends of his transition to Notre Dame.

Dr. Maureen Hallinan served as the first director of CREO, and was the first director of the IEI upon its founding in 1996. She is also the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of Sociology, whose research has focused primarily on the sociology of education. Her most recent studies compare students’ learning opportunities in Catholic and public schools in Chicago.

“We have established CREO as a center of excellence for the study of educational inequality, the organization of schools, and the effects of school sector on student outcomes. Mark Berends brings a faith vision and commitment to his work that will enhance and strengthen the context in which members of CREO conduct their research and teaching,” she says.