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 to help develop policies. The organization has an ongoing major initiative to provide tools to improve education both in the US and internationally, particularly in disadvantaged areas. John Flanagan, who developed the Critical Incident Technique personnel-selection tool to identify human success indicators in the workplace, founded the organization in 1946.
Broadly, the organization's programs consist of assessment; international, human, and social development; health; and federal statistics. 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 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 and private health care providers, and the general public, AIR's health programs design, implement, and evaluate the impact of health care policies. 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. 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.
AIR started as a small research group tied to the University of Pittsburgh and now spans more than 30 offices in more than a dozen countries worldwide. Reflecting its growth, AIR has posted year-over increases in revenue since 2001. In fiscal 2010 (ends December) revenues from contracts and grants jumped approximately 5% over 2007. More than 95% of the organization's revenues go toward its projects.
Adding to its educational research capabilities, AIR has pursued a number of strategic alliances and acquisitions. In mid 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. – less