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Marc Hernandez

Pronouns: He/Him

Principal Research Scientist
Marc is an applied developmental psychologist with expertise in cognitive development and early childhood and elementary education.

Marc is a principal research scientist in the Academic Research Centers and founding director of NORC’s Early Childhood Research & Practice Collaborative. He is an applied developmental psychologist with expertise in cognitive development, early childhood and elementary education, both in informal (home-based) and in formal (school-based) educational settings.

Marc is experienced in designing and conducting experimental studies, cluster randomized trials, quasi-experiments, mixed-methods research, psychometric analysis for assessment and survey development, and program evaluation. Marc’s research and evaluation program focuses on identifying, developing, and evaluating programs interventions, tools, technologies, best practices, and policies designed to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children, early in their lives (i.e., over the birth to third grade continuum). This program of work has lead him to work extensively in home, preschool and elementary school settings, with children, parents, educators/practitioners, and administrators. Through the Collaborative, Marc partners closely with researchers, practitioners, nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies to develop and/or evaluate education programs, interventions, curricula, tools, and assessments. Utilizing a whole child, 360° approach to development, his work aims to produce tools and knowledge that will help illuminate what continuum of supports are necessary to close the opportunity gap.

Marc is an active member of the Getting on Track Early for School Success project, which involves a team of educators, researchers, and psychometricians from across the University of Chicago and NORC. The formative assessment is intended to act as an organizing tool that will allow teachers to tailor instruction to help preschool children increase oral language, literacy, and mathematics proficiency, while also reducing gaps in kindergarten readiness among children from disadvantaged homes. He also leads the Kindergarten Readiness Indicator (KRI) project, a 15-minute direct assessment of key academic skills associated with kindergarten readiness, which was developed from the comprehensive Getting on Track assessment. KRI is the state of Indiana’s mandatory kindergarten readiness assessment for its On My Way PreK program.

Marc is the co-principal investigator of NORC’s independent evaluation of the Oakland Promise, a cradle to career program that includes four component programs: Brilliant Baby, Kindergarten to College, College Access, and College Completion. This evaluation includes mixed-method approaches to evaluating each individual component of the Promise, and the compounding effects of the Promise as a whole. It includes a longitudinal, randomized controlled trial examining the impact of Brilliant Baby, a college savings account (CSA) and financial coaching intervention for Medicaid-eligible families with infants, on children and parents.

Marc also works closely with foundations, such as the Kenneth Rainin Foundation in Oakland, CA, to help inform early childhood grant-making decisions informed by the latest developmental, education, and learning science, as well as local parent and community needs. Through these collaborations, Marc and his team have conducted literature reviews, household surveys/interviews, and stakeholder engagements. He has also helped lead evaluations of foundation-funded programs, such as the randomized controlled trial evaluation of the SEEDS of Early Learning professional development program.

Marc is an active participant in the University of Chicago’s undergraduate and graduate student mentorship and career-development programs. He was a charter member of Morton Arboretum’s Education and Information Advisory Committee and currently serves on Age of Learning’s Curriculum Board.

Education

PhD

University of Chicago

MA

University of Chicago

BA

University of Chicago

BA

University of Chicago

Project Contributions

Oakland Promise Kindergarten to College Evaluation

Assessing efforts to promote a college-going culture among young students and their parents

Client:

Oakland Promise

Getting on Track: Improving Pre-K Outcomes

An innovative assessment tool that reliably alerts teachers to lagging language and math skills

Client:

Heising-Simons Foundation, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, PNC Foundation

Kindergarten Readiness Indicators

Measuring early literacy and numeracy skills for pre-K children

Client:

Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Welborn Baptist Foundation

Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Cross-System Evaluation

A first-of-its-kind evaluation to maximize the effectiveness of TTA provided to early childhood grantees

Client:

Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Evaluating Oakland Promise’s Cradle-to-Career Programs

NORC’s assessments enable Oakland program to identify past benefits for future funding

Client:

Oakland Promise

Analyzing Parent Narratives to Create Parent Gauge™

Helping Head Start build a tool to assess parent, family, and community engagement

Client:

National Head Start Association, Ford Foundation, Rainin Foundation, Region V Head Start Association

AmeriCorps: Technical Assistance to Promote Program Evaluation

Long-term support in evidence building for AmeriCorps programs

Client:

AmeriCorps

Minnesota Reading Corps Pre-K Program Evaluation

Demonstrating that AmeriCorps volunteer tutors can improve preschoolers’ literacy

Client:

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Impact Evaluation

NORC finds tutoring by AmeriCorps volunteers brought benefits to most young students

Client:

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

Oakland Promise Brilliant Baby Evaluation

Assessing the impact of a “two-generation” intervention on college attainment

Client:

Oakland Promise

Head Start-to-Kindergarten Transitions Project

The first rigorous, system-level study of the factors that drive successful kindergarten transitions

Client:

Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families

Evaluating the Tempe Preschool Resource Expansion

Assessing whether Tempe PRE improves kindergarten readiness and future achievement for low-income children

Funder:

Helios Education Foundation

Publications