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SDP fellow

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The SDP Fellowship is a premier professional development experience led by an accomplished team at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. The two-year program develops talented data strategists in school systems, state education departments, and nonprofit organizations. By participating in the fellowship, both fellows and their host agencies will grow advanced analytic capacity, develop clear priorities and plans for data and data systems, build organizational willingness to use data for decision-making, and uncover valuable insight about performance. Together with SDP, these leaders are building a growing, national network focused on improving student outcomes in America’s public schools. Read more about the program

Application Details

Fellow Types

The program features two kinds of fellows—data fellows and agency fellows. Both types of fellows receive professional development designed to boost skills and knowledge in measurement and analysis, leadership and change management, and cutting-edge education policy.

  • Data fellows are recruited by SDP via a nationwide search and matched to an SDP partner organization. They bring impressive credentials in statistics, data management, and research methods.
  • Agency fellows are current employees who have been identified as analytic leaders in their agency. They are the rising stars of their organization who, with additional training and attention, will take on executive-level roles. 

SDP Fellows are: 

  • entrepreneurial change agents dedicated to transforming how key policy and management decisions are made in public education.
  • thought partners that enable education agencies to break through strategic issues that benefit from robust analyses.
  • talented data strategists that lead and support key projects in their placement agency.
  • key contributors in a growing network of analytic leaders committed to impacting education reform through research and data.

All Data Fellow and Agency Fellow candidates must complete a Fellowship Application; however, the Selection Criteria and Selection Process described below applies only to Data Fellow candidates.

Selection Criteria

SDP Fellows are education professionals with the analytic expertise and organizational skills to inform policy and grow our collective knowledge about strategic analytics. Fellows come from diverse professional backgrounds (e.g., public policy, business, education), but share an interest in using analytics to effect change in educational organizations and make a difference in the lives of students across the country.

The Strategic Data Project seeks candidates who possess:

1. An advanced degree (master's level or higher)

2. A strong background in quantitative analysis

  • Master's level (or equivalent) knowledge of statistical analysis to provide agencies with the capacity for data-driven decision making
  • Experience in practical data analysis and familiarity with research design

3. Proven leadership and management experience

  • At least three years of professional work experience, including a successful track record of managing projects and change initiatives
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and drive—humility, flexibility, patience, and resilience required to address multiple barriers and see projects from beginning to end

4. Excellent communications skills, both written and verbal

  • Ability to cultivate relationships, identify high-value projects, and push them forward
  • Ability to develop and manage relationships within and beyond the organization
  • Experience communicating complex research findings to diverse audiences

5. Demonstrated passion for education reform

  • Interest and passion for initiating change in the education sector, and advancing the use of data and analysis in policy creation and system management

We regret that the Strategic Data Project does not provide Visa sponsorship.

Selection Process

The SDP Fellowship application process for Cohort 8 Data Fellows consists of the following five phases.

Phase One: Submit an Application Online (December - March)
Candidates submit a cover letter and resume. All candidates will be notified of their status within three weeks after their application is submitted.

Phase Two: Phone Interview (February - April)

Candidates will participate in a phone interview with an SDP research analyst and a member of the recruitment team.

  •  Once a phone interview appointment is confirmed, candidates will receive an assignment the next business day and will be given 72 hours to complete it.
  • During the phone interview, candidates will be asked to briefly present their memo and discuss their interest in the fellowship. Phone interviews will typically last up to 30 minutes.
  • Candidates will be notified if they are moving forward in the interview process, placed on the waitlist or not moving forward within two weeks.
    • Waitlist candidates are encouraged to submit evidence of applied quantitative experience.

Phase Three: SDP Selection Days (April)
Successful candidates from the phone interview stage attend an in-person interview in Boston, MA.

  • Each candidate participates in a two hour in-person interview that will be divided into three sessions.
  • SDP will assist candidates with travel arrangements and expenses.
  • Candidates will be notified of their status within one week after selection day.

Phase Four: In-agency Interview(s) (May - June)
Candidates selected to move to the final interview stage will be matched with a prospective agency (e.g. district, state education agency, etc.).

  • Candidates will interview with senior cabinet level members, their prospective supervisor, and if scheduling permits, the superintendent or CEO.
  • SDP will assist candidates with travel arrangements and expenses.

Phase Five: Placement (May - June)
Candidates who are not selected by an agency can defer their application for the next cohort in-agency interview(s).

The anticipated fellowship start date for Cohort 8 is Monday, September 12, 2016. An orientation for new fellows will be held in October 2016 in Cambridge, MA.