SDP Fellowship Program

"[SDP] was a great place in the arc of my professional be exposed to people who are at the leading edge of trying to make a difference.”

Anthony Sims, SDP Fellow
Prince George's County Public Schools (MD)

A Need for Data Strategists in Education

The Strategic Data Project (SDP) Fellowship program develops data strategists for education: top-notch talent with superior skills in collecting, analyzing, and communicating with data. The bar is being raised in K–12 education, marked by increasing demand for high-quality teaching, rigorous standards, and exceptional student outcomes. SDP Fellows can help education organizations leverage existing data and build an evidence base to support this new landscape and produce lasting results.

Become an SDP Fellow

Make a difference in education by putting your analytic skills to work in an education agency and uncovering new insights that will improve student achievement. 
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Host an SDP Fellow

Add capacity to your organization through SDP's Fellowship program. Inform decision making and strategy with evidence by leveraging the expertise of data strategists.
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About the Fellowship


During the two-year program, fellows participate in a structured, SDP-designed, professional development program created to boost their skills and knowledge in three key areas:

  1. Measurement and analysis
  2. Leadership/management and effective communication
  3. Research findings in education policy

The SDP Fellowship program consists of a series of workshops led by some of the leading program evaluation academics in the field, ongoing advising and mentoring with Harvard faculty and SDP staff, virtual learning opportunities with faculty and fellow alumni, book clubs, online resources and communities, and access to a growing national network of data strategists. 

Our Goals
We intend for fellows to leave each workshop session armed with a vision for their work, along with the tools and relationships necessary to move from vision to action. The SDP Fellowship curriculum:

  • provides fellows with skill-building opportunities that directly contribute to their work;
  • significantly elevates their analytic, communication, and project management skills;
  • builds a professional and intellectual network; and
  • provides time and resources for fellows to reflect on their work.

Our curriculum focus areas include measuring teacher effectiveness, compensation, college-going success and persistence, data management, data visualization, early warning systems, and implementing data-driven operational decisions. Through workshop sessions, book clubs, and webinars, fellows develop a deep understanding of current trends and policy issues, becoming specialists in using analysis to inform policy.

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.

Benefits for Fellows & Host Organizations

Collectively, SDP Fellows and their supervisors form a network of analytic leaders committed to impacting education reform through research and data. In each partner organization, fellows and their supervisors reach important goals and produce powerful results through the following strategies.

High-Quality Professional Development
Fellows attend six intensive workshops over the two-year period, including two national conferences, featuring leading faculty and practitioners from Harvard and beyond. The curriculum focuses on measurement and analysis, leadership and change management, and education policy. Fellow supervisors also attend three of the six workshops. 

Opportunity for Impact and Leadership
Fellows have the opportunity to take a leadership role on analytic, policy-oriented projects that impact student achievement outcomes, teachers’ instruction, and organizational processes.

Technical and Subject-Matter Expertise
Fellows and agency partners are exposed to rigorous and timely research in education reform and provided with a portfolio of resources to support analytic skill-building. Fellows’ work often leads the field with knowledge on the newest analytic techniques and emerging policy areas.

Access to National Network
Fellows and agency partners join a growing network of forward-thinking partners and data strategists innovating new programs and techniques in K–12 organizations across the United States. Fellows gain knowledge of current practices and lessons learned from their colleagues and apply these lessons to their host organizations.

Competitive Compensation Package
Data Fellows receive $80,000–$90,000 annual salary plus benefits. 

Capstone Reports

SDP Fellowship Capstone Reports are practitioner-oriented resource guides that provide education leaders with insight on how to leverage data and analytics to inform policy and strategic decision-making. The reports—written by SDP Fellows about the work they led during the two-year program—include case studies, strategies for replicating analyses, and recommendations to education agencies, future fellows, and researchers.
Read the SDP Fellowship Capstone Reports

Faculty Advisors

As part of the SDP Fellowship program, fellows have access to faculty advisors, giving them the opportunity to interact with and receive one-on-one mentoring from leaders in education research. Faculty advisors serve as both intellectual coaches (reviewing work product and discussing possible analytical approaches), as well as managerial coaches (advising fellows when they meet organizational obstacles). Through this relationship, fellows develop a stronger understanding of current research in education, while also deepening their knowledge of quantitative analysis and its application to policy reform.

John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Teachers College, Columbia University

Department of Economics, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Department of Economics, University of California, Davis

Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution

Department of Education Policy and Leadership, University of Maryland

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Education, University of Michigan

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Center for Education Data & Research, University of Washington

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research

University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Department of Education, Brown University

Department of Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles

Department of Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles

Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington

Department of Economics, Dartmouth College

Department of Sociology, New York University 

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University