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Name: Easton, John
Current Position: Former Director

John Q. Easton has Education Secretary Arne Duncan to thank for his new job in Washington as head of the Institute of Education Sciences. A longtime specialist in education research from Chicago, Easton has known Duncan for nearly 20 years as a result of his work both in and for the Windy City’s public schools system.

A resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood since 1973, Easton, 59, attended college at Hobart College in Geneva, NY, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1971. He went on to graduate school at Western Washington University, earning his master’s in psychology in 1973, and his PhD in measurement, evaluation, and statistical analysis from the University of Chicago in 1981.
While finishing his dissertation, Easton worked as a consultant for the Department of Research and Evaluation in the Chicago public schools system. In 1981, he became the director of research at the Center for Teaching and Learning at City College of Chicago, and he left in 1984 to return to the public schools as a research specialist in the Department of Equal Educational Opportunity.
Five years later, Easton joined the Chicago Panel on School Policy as the director of monitoring and research, helping to evaluate programs for the public schools. While still in this position he helped found, in 1990, the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), an organization dedicated to analyzing the policies that govern Chicago Public Schools. CCSR is part of a larger initiative at the University of Chicago that’s part of the Urban Education Institute to improve urban education through research, creating charter schools, training teachers and improving curriculum.
It was during the early 1990s that Easton first met Duncan, who was then involved in creating a Southside Chicago community school and sought Easton’s expertise on school data.
In 1994, Easton left the Chicago Panel on School Policy to again rejoin the public schools system, this time as director of the Department of Research, Evaluation and Assessment.
He then went to work for CCSR in 1997 as deputy director, and in 2002, he was elevated to executive director, where he remained until his appointment by President Obama to lead the Institute of Education Sciences. From 2001 to 2002, he also served for the second time as director of the Department of Research, Analysis, and Assessment for the Chicago public school system. In addition, he served on the National Assessment Governing Board (2003-2007), an independent board that sets policies for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”
Easton’s research at CCSR has focused on trends in achievement test scores and the use of test scores in school accountability efforts and improvement. He also co-authored a recent study on the relationship between the academic performance of freshmen and high school graduation.
While in charge of CCSR, Easton forged a productive relationship with Duncan, the one-time head of the Chicago public schools system. Duncan once said of specialists like Easton at CCSR: “They are not ivory tower researchers. These are people who roll up their sleeves and get out to the schools and conduct research that is applicable to real situations.”
Easton has served on several boards and committees, including: the American Educational Research Association’s Relating Research to Practice Award Committee (2007- current); vice chair of the Committee on Standards, Design and Methodology for the National Assessment Governing Board; the National Council on Educational Measurement’s Brenda Loyd Dissertation Award Committee (2005 – 2008); and as an advisory board member for the Center for Child Welfare and Education at Northern Illinois University (2001 - current).
Easton is the co-author of Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, a book that studies Chicago’s 20-year-old experiment in public school decentralization, evaluating one hundred elementary schools that improved and one hundred that did not.
John Easton Biography (Department of Education)
John Easton Biography (Consortium on Chicago School Research)
John Easton Biography (The National Academies)
John Q. Easton (Who Runs Gov, Washington Post)
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