Thomas Hoffer

Thomas B. Hoffer Senior Fellow

Education and Child Development

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Chicago
M.A., Education, University of Chicago
B.A., Sociology and Education, Beloit College

Thomas B. Hoffer is a Senior Fellow in the Department of Education and Child Development. Hoffer has been with NORC for over 20 years, and brings nearly three decades of experience working on the design, execution and analysis of education surveys. Most of Hoffer's analysis and writing has been oriented toward educational policy and program evaluation. He currently serves as Principal Investigator for the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program evaluation. He is also the Senior Project Research Scientist for the NSF longitudinal panel Survey of Doctorate Recipients and the Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annual census of all individuals receiving a first research doctorate from a U.S. academic institution. Hoffer was the Principal Investigator for the U.S. Department of Education's Growth Model Pilot Project evaluation, and directed the National Survey of Algebra Teachers for the U.S. Department of Education. He has also served on technical advisory groups for the National Center for Education Statistics' ELS:2002, PISA, and HLS:2009 projects.

He has led tasks of study design, including design of experiments; instrument development; data analysis; briefing of government officials; and report writing on several projects. He has several years of experience on projects in each of the main institutional areas of education: elementary, middle school, high school, college and graduate school, and the nexus of formal education and the labor force. Mr. Hoffer has extensive experience with designs and analyses of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) national longitudinal surveys, including Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class 1998-1999 (ECLS) , National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS-88), and High School &Beyond (HS&B).

From 1987-1994, Hoffer served as Associate Director of Operations for the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY). The LSAY was a panel study of 6,000 students drawn from 50 pairs of public high schools and their primary middle school feeders. The study focused on factors affecting students' interest in and learning of science and mathematics and followed them through high school and into college and the labor force.

He has authored or co-authored several journal articles, books, technical reports, and conference papers on a wide range of educational topics, from early elementary mathematics education to the scientific productivity of doctoral scientists and engineers. In 1987, James S. Coleman and Hoffer were awarded the American Education Research Association's Outstanding Book of the Year award for Public and Private High Schools: The Impact of Communities.

Representative Projects

High School and Beyond Follow-up Survey. NORC, in partnership with the University of Texas Austin, has continued the High School and Beyond (HS&B) Study. With grant funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Institute for Education Statistics, NORC conducted a follow-up study with the 1980 sophomore cohort of the HS&B sample. This project re-contacted the nationally representative HS&B sophomore sample members (N=14,825) just before most turned 50 years old.  This follow-up survey collected some current information on sample members' labor force experience, health status, family roles, and expectations for continued work and retirement.  These data will become part of a robust data source that will also include data from the 1980 base year survey and from the four follow-ups that took place between 1982 and 1992. This valuable resource will be used to study a number of issues related to the consequences for midlife health and labor force participation of adolescent and early adult circumstances and characteristics. More

Joyce Foundation Survey on Teacher Evaluation and Education Reform. NORC at the University of Chicago is developing a sample design and survey questionnaire, as well as conducting a telephone survey of a representative sample of Chicago parents with school-age children attending public, charter, or private schools about their views related to current efforts to reform public school teacher evaluation systems. A comparison group of households with no school-age children will also be surveyed. The Joyce Foundation is funding this effort. More

Change and Stability at the Starting Gate: A Comparison of America's Kindergartners in 2010 and 1998. NORC will produce a report that presents findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 (ECLS-K:2011) and compare nationally-representative samples of first-time kindergarten students from Fall 2010 and Fall 1998 with respect to cognitive skills and psychological characteristics, social backgrounds, and school experiences. More

Out-of-Field Teaching in the Middle Grades. NORC will produce a working paper for the U.S. Department of Education–National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with recommendations on how to define and measure the extent to which middle grade (5-8) teachers have not obtained sufficient professional preparation for their teaching assignments (“out-of-field teachers”). Defining out-of-field status for these teachers is complicated by the intersecting of elementary and secondary preparation standards in the middle grades. NORC will review past research and current definitions of teacher qualifications to summarize current theories and policies and to make recommendations. More

Survey of Doctorate Recipients. NORC conducts the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The SDR is a survey of 120,000 science and engineering doctorate recipients who earned their degrees from institutions within the United States. More

See all Thomas Hoffer projects


News EducationNext: Reflecting on the work of NORC Research Associate and UC Sociologist James S. Coleman More
Posted: 1.25.2016 9:10AM


Thomas B. Hoffer

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