The American Institutes for Research (AIR) lives and breathes to enhance human performance. The not-for-profit organization conducts behavioral and social science research on topics related to education and educational assessment, health, international development, and work and training. Clients, including several federal agencies, use AIR's research in developing policies. As a major ongoing initiative, the organization provides tools to improve education both in the US and internationally, particularly in disadvantaged areas. John C. Flanagan, who developed the Critical Incident Technique personnel-selection tool to identify human success indicators in the workplace, founded the organization in 1946.
AIR has organized its group into six program areas: Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, Assessment, Education, Healthand Social Development, Workforce, and International Development, Evaluation, and Research.
AIR's assessment program focuses on score reports and online reporting tools to translate large-scale testing data on student achievement into a benchmark for school performance. International, human, and social development programs aim to improve the quality of life and education in developing areas. It works to achieve this through teacher and school administrator training, curriculum development and teaching materials coupled with mobilizing health communications, HIV/AIDS education, and raising awareness about such issues as child labor exploitation. Working with governments, private health care providers, and the general public, AIR's health programs design, implement, and evaluate the impact of health care policies.
Begun as a small research group affiliated with the
University of Pittsburgh
, AIR's corporate headquarters and business offices are located in Washington, DC. The group maintains about a dozen offices in the US. Domestic offices are located in San Mateo and Sacramento, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Chicago and Naperville, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Baltimore, Frederick, and Silver Spring, Maryland; Portland, Oregon; Columbus, Ohio; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; New York, New York; and Waltham, Massachusetts. AIR also operates nearly 10 international offices located in Egypt, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Tajikistan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Zambia.
The National Center for Education Statistics, a key source for statistical data about education, and AIR team up to develop large-scale databases for policymaking. Among various efforts, AIR designs surveys and assessments, develops questionnaires and tests items, as well as informational materials. It also helps in producing
The Condition of Education
, the agency's chief report. The organization's successes include campaigns that address public health emergencies, such as the flu and H1N1, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and birth defects.
Adding to its educational research capabilities, AIR has pursued a number of strategic alliances and acquisitions. In 2015, SEDL joined forced with AIR. The combined organizations will have new and enhanced capabilities around, for example, disability research as well as an increased capacity to conduct large-scale randomized control trials and provide technical assistance to diverse populations across a broader geographic area.
In 2015 AIR awarded a $500,000 grant to Impact Network, a nonprofit seeking to make high-quality education in Zambia sustainable.
In 2014 AIR launched the Education Policy Center.
In 2011 the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research (CALDER) began operating as a joint project of AIR. CALDER examines how public policies and community conditions impact teacher-student results. A year earlier, AIR acquired Learning Point Associates, a Chicago-based firm that delivers research in the educational sector. Its clients include state education agencies, single-school districts, private foundations, and for-profit organizations.