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Center for Research on Educational Opportunity names new director

Author: Arts and Letters


Mark Berends, director of the National Center on School Choice (NCSC), has joined the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI) as the new director of its Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO).

Berends, who most recently served as associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, succeeds Maureen Hallinan, who has directed CREO for ten years.

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 numerous 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, Berends led the summative evaluation of New American Schools, 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,” “Charter School Outcomes,” “Leading with Data: Pathways to Improve Your School” and the “Handbook of Research on School Choice.” He will teach sociology courses at Notre Dame.

“Professor Berends will make a singularly important contribution to the mission of the IEI,” says Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C, director of the IEI. “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 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,” Berends said of his transition to Notre Dame. “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.”

Hallinan served as the first director of CREO and was the first director of the IEI upon its founding in 1996. She also is 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.

Originally published by Melissa Green at on January 28, 2009.