Senior Program Officer, Early Learning Data Systems and Assessments

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - Multiple Locations - Full time

Division Summary

The foundation’s U.S. Program (USP) works to expand access to life-changing opportunities. That’s why our primary focus in education is ensuring that all students – especially Black and Latino students, and students experiencing poverty – have an opportunity to earn a degree or certificate that prepares them for a successful career and fulfilling life. But often, education isn’t enough. Factors outside of schools and the classroom have an enormous impact on a student’s success. That’s why we’re also supporting efforts by public officials and community groups to better understand and advance economic mobility, leading to permanent ladders out of poverty for families and communities, such that race, ethnicity, and income are no longer predictors of outcomes.

Team Summary

Our US Education programs support young people along the PK-16 continuum, from Pre-Kindergarten through postsecondary. The Early Learning & Pathways team focuses across the critical transition points that are essential to supporting young people’s momentum along their education journey – early learning as the foundational platform for success in elementary school, and the latter half of high school into postsecondary, which is the launching pad for success in the workforce.

Our work in early learning is focused on increasing Kindergarten-readiness among Black, Latino and children experiencing poverty such that they meet third grade benchmarks that are predictive of academic and later-life success. We invest in innovative assessments, curricula and instructional supports, along with data infrastructure and tools that drive improvement in the quality of public Pre-Kindergarten programs.

Our work in Education Pathways focuses on ensuring that Black, Latino and students experiencing poverty access the learning opportunities and guidance and navigation supports needed to obtain credentials of value and gain professional skills, agency, and social capital needed to thrive in the workforce. We support high schools, postsecondary institutions, and employers to adopt and coordinate delivery of effective solutions, aligning K-12/PS programs of study with labor market demand that enables more students to be empowered and prepared to select and pursue postsecondary pathways of value.

Job Description Summary

The Senior Program Officer, Early Learning Data Systems & Assessments will report to the Deputy Director, Early Learning and strategically develop and manage one or more portfolios of grants and contracts requiring high-level grant management skills, monitoring and evaluation. As a key advisor on strategy initiatives, contribute to the continued development of the team’s strategic vision, while partnering closely with team leadership to set the overall strategy and goals for the team.

This role will lead the Early Learning data and assessment portfolios, which will require significant technical expertise in assessment design and validation, data infrastructure, data analytics and design, and collaborative R&D process, with a heavy focus on technology. The work entails partnering with EL stakeholders and states to amplify public demand for improved data systems and to build capacity to use data from assessments for research, policy, and practice.

Our ideal colleague has the experience to demonstrate that they believe in Early Learning as a powerful lever for advancing equity. They are a strong communicator and collaborator, who is skilled in supporting non-experts to understand complex technical issues. We are looking for someone who will enjoy the opportunity of working on complex problems and collectively creating solutions that have the potential for transformative change, as well as connecting rigor with overall strategic goals, helping us all to ultimately improve our work and reach our strategic goals. To be successful with our team, this person will need to be solutions-oriented, flexible and a strong team player, skilled in collaborative approaches, and able to balance rigor with practicality.

Core Responsibilities

  • Support the Early Learning team on technical research, development and commercialization projects intend to create an environment for more rapid development of innovative models, platforms and tools that leverage a range of technologies and innovative practices to improve child outcomes.
  • Work on complex matters or unique issues of early learning data and assessments. This role will require significant technical expertise/understanding of data science, assessment design and validation with knowledge of early learning data infrastructure and standards, collaborative R&D processes, and technology. Areas of focus: adaptive learning platforms, big data/learning analytics, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality
  • Directly or indirectly leads a team to develop, manage and implement project strategies.
  • Contribute to the design, integration and improvement of strategies, collaborations and implementation plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact of investments, including tight collaboration with staff leading measurement, learning and evaluation activities and staff leading policy, advocacy, and communications activities.
  • Negotiate, execute, and manage complex portfolio of grants or performance-based contracts. Review letters of inquiry and grant proposals and provide clear, concise, and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding.
  • Consult with grantees and other partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure grants are meeting strategy goals. This may include site visits, providing operational guidance and convening meetings of key stakeholders.
  • Develop, manage, resource, and implement a program that aligns with foundation strategy and is operationally integrated with other foundation programs. Contribute to the design of new strategies, collaborations and implementation plans to ensure long-term sustainability and impact.
  • Manage external relationships and portfolios to maximize impact of investments, projects, and leveraging learning. This role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the field including strategic relationships with Early Learning leaders as well as other funders and shapers of the early learning field. This may include site visits, providing strategic thought partnership, joint planning, coordination and convening meetings of key stakeholders.
  • Represent the foundation to key program-related external constituencies, as appropriate, on committees related to area of expertise and responsibilities of the position.

Core Knowledge and Skills

  • Understanding and experience in interacting with technology researchers, early stage developers and knowledge in leading advanced technology based R&D projects, with an understanding in markets and incentives.
  • Analytical and data driven, with a strong desire to improve early learning assessments and data systems and demonstrated knowledge how to use data to answer questions and identify areas for further investigation.
  • Demonstrated knowledge in early learning/education assessments and/or data systems.
  • Knowledge about using advanced analytical techniques (e.g., data science) and cutting-edge privacy-protecting technologies with large-scale education data sets; experience applying these techniques and technologies preferred.
  • Strong strategic, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to be highly effective while managing shifting internal expectations and priorities.
  • Ability to prioritize and manage large amounts of information to achieve results in a fast-paced environment.
  • Proven ability to lead and influence others in a constructive manner and to build and sustain collaborative relationships and reinforce transparency and trust.
  • Experience as technical resource to teams and leadership on impact, cost effectiveness and decision analyses.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, able to effectively synthesize information to reach diverse audiences and build consensus.
  • Recognized internally and externally by the global professional community as an expert within a particular specialized field.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with a variety of local, state, and federal/national entities and grantees as well as private sector entities

Education and Experience

  • Master’s degree in early learning, education, data science or related social sciences and 7+ years of experience.
  • Knowledge related to early learning assessments, data systems, data analytics and governance
  • Experience working in or closely with early learning systems (including federal Head Start, state Pre-K, a school district, early learning state education agency or education consulting group) on early learning assessments preferred.

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Seattle, Washington
Washington D.C., District of Columbia


Product Management

Experience Level

Mid Level

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