The Center for Social Organization of Schools (CSOS) was established in 1966 as an educational research and development center at Johns Hopkins University.

The center maintains a staff of full-time sociologists, psychologists, social psychologists, and educators who conduct programmatic research to improve the education system, as well as full-time support staff engaged in developing curricula and providing technical assistance to help schools use the center’s research.

The center currently includes the Everyone Graduates Center, Early Learning, National Network of Partnership Schools, and Stocks in the Future.

Research Purpose

The purpose of the Center for Social Organization of Schools has remained consistent since its founding—to study how changes in the organization of schools can make them more effective for all students in promoting academic achievement, development of potential, and eventual career success.

The emphasis on social organization is based in sound theory—that changes in the structure of an environment will produce changes in the attitudes, behaviors, and accomplishments of the people in that environment. Schools can be made more effective for all students through changes in the organization of the classroom, school, and district. This emphasis compels the center to address many major, practical problems in education, including:

  • How to develop learning environments that minimize student apathy or disruption, and maximize student commitment, satisfaction, and learning;
  • How to organize educational experiences that foster learning among students with different interests and needs;
  • How to facilitate the successful transition from education to work;
  • How to structure and coordinate educational programs to provide fair access to educational and occupational opportunities;
  • How to connect schools with families and communities in ways that promote student success.
  • Research Methods

The research methods used in center studies reflect the tasks to be accomplished and the expertise of the research personnel.

Survey research is employed to discover and define relationships between school organizational practices and student outcomes. Experimental research and related methodologies are conducted in school settings. Case studies and qualitative research methods are used to delve deeply into the characteristics of school contexts and the experiences of all participants in education.

Bringing the circle full, center technical assistance staff work closely with schools to implement and evaluate the research-based practices and processes.

Research Funding

The substantial research and development accomplishments of CSOS have resulted in its receiving continuing federal funding since its founding in 1966. The center has successfully sought grants and contracts from both public and private sources to supplement and extend its mission.

Early Learning studies focus on the development and evaluation of early-intervention literacy programs and development of teacher-training modules for early literacy instruction. Middle and High School studies focus on the development, evaluation, and dissemination of the Talent Development secondary school model.

Other studies are considering dropout prevention, content literacy, the effects of coaching on literacy instruction, and effective algebra instruction. School, Family, and Community Partnerships is developing, evaluating, and disseminating models of partnership that help students succeed in school, achieve at high levels, and develop social and emotional competencies.