We are seeking a field-recognized or emerging leader who believes deeply in high-quality, engaging and supportive grade-level learning experiences for all students and who seeks to lead through high-impact technical assistance projects with systems leaders of public, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations at the local, state, national and federal levels. This Principal will bring significant content expertise in coherent instructional, assessment and accountability systems as a leader of the Engaged Students team, one of three operational “home teams” at Education First. The Engaged Students team overall focuses on supporting and sustaining the creation of just, equitable, rigorous and engaging learning environments. The Engaged Students team leads on three of the firm’s seven Focus Areas: Coherent Instructional, Assessment and Accountability Systems; Innovative Systems and Schools; and Social, Emotional and Academic Development. The Principal will have significant expertise in academic strategy, including at least three of these areas: college- and career-ready standards, research-based professional learning practices, high-quality curriculum and assessments, culturally-responsive practices/teaching, equitable learning environments and interventions that support and accelerate learning of the standards. The Principal also will believe deeply in the power of intentional coordination, integration and coherence of academics with social and emotional learning to increase preK-12 student success, as well as coherence with other system-level strategies, including training and supporting diverse educators, innovative staffing and school designs and aligned funding.
The Principal will collaborate with other Education First leaders on the Engaged Students, Outstanding Educators and Effective Organizations and Investments teams to refine our services and sell, shape and deliver outstanding engagements to advance greater coherence in school systems, states, foundations and nonprofit organizations. The Principal will apply their advanced understanding of current and future instructional, assessment and accountability issues in the field to lead powerful services and projects that produce immediate and long-term results, and contribute thought leadership to extend the firm’s reputation nationally in these areas.
Principals at Education First have diverse and outstanding networks of relationships with decisionmakers and influencers in the field, and they are comfortable leading business development, cultivating relationships and partnerships, selling projects and coaching others to sell projects. Principals also are deeply skilled in understanding and addressing issues of racial equity; overseeing the quality of research, work products and service to clients; and coaching, developing and empowering team members to consistently deliver with excellence.
The Principal for Coherent Instructional, Assessment and Accountability Systems will:
Skillfully support executives in school systems, state agencies, foundations and nonprofits, as well as the larger ecosystem of technical assistance partners and providers, to advance instructional, assessment and accountability policies, practices, systems and tools that improve student achievement, especially for Black and Latinx students, English learners, students with learning differences and students whose learning needs are intersectional across these and other dimensions.
Develop and use tools and strategies to assess client needs, lift up research and emerging practices and solve persistent and pernicious problems clients face, across a wide variety of issues and with special attention in the next several years to redesign instruction to accelerate student learning and support student and educator health and wellbeing post-pandemic. For example: Help clients to identify and select strategies that integrate skillful implementation of high-quality instructional materials, professional learning systems and multi-tiered systems of support; create policy and spending guardrails, planning tools and templates for states and school systems to use COVID-19 stimulus funding for multiple years of recovery and redesign that addresses students’ unfinished learning and emotional wellbeing; support and coach innovators to reimagine assessment system design; integrate talent and academic strategies to prioritize recruitment and retention strategies to meet a school system’s needs and instructional vision.
Support system leaders to operationalize Education First’s commitment to coherence, bringing down silos in school systems, states and organizations that can impede progress and in order to advance a focused set of strategic priorities across academics and other essential content areas, including social and emotional learning and talent systems.
Refine, publish and present Education First’s point of view on leading an equitable and coherent academic strategy, illustrating points of synergy and alignment among (at least) academics, SEL and talent systems.
Education First’s portfolio of coherent instructional, assessment and accountability projects is varied and has produced significant results over time. Education First incubated and launched EdReports.org, by recruiting its initial board of directors and executive director, developing its strategic plan, designing the initial K-8 mathematics review methodology and recruiting and training the first educator review teams. We continue to provide periodic support with strategy, organizational development and research. We designed, launched and incubated the Coherence Lab Fellowship with our partners at the Aspen Institute and Council of Chief State School Officers. We’ve facilitated, developed or refreshed academic strategies for school systems, community college and charter school networks. We are supporting more than a dozen school systems, regional offices of education and state departments of education with COVID-19 rapid response and strategic recovery, and we coach states in CCSSO’s Instructional Materials and Professional Development Network to increase adoption and skillful use of outstanding curriculum in teacher preparation and K-12. We facilitated the High-Quality Assessment Project to support more than 20 states to adopt better statewide summative assessments; we created several toolkits to help teachers design and use classroom assessments and to help school systems streamline and reduce testing; and we’ve published multiple landscape scans and reports on the state of assessments and challenges in the field. We are providing significant funding, coaching and technical assistance to help states and charter school networks innovate with summative assessment design and to create new measures, and we are supporting the development of a new framework for improving equity and measurement.
About Education First
Education First is a mission-driven education policy consultancy dedicated to ensuring that all students – and particularly students in poverty and students of color – are prepared for success in college, careers and life. We work with organizations that are shaping the future of P-16 education across the nation, including school networks and districts, state departments of education, policy and advocacy organizations, youth empowerment organizations, talent organizations and foundations.
We help these system leaders catalyze change through our services:
Conduct research and analysis on policies and provide contextual recommendations and strategic support to translate findings into concrete, sustainable action
Develop and implement visionary, coherent strategies and strategic plans by prioritizing inclusive voices, focusing on the right problems, and providing space to explore
Plan and facilitate meaningful convenings for organizations and individuals to learn, problem solve, collaborate, and advance their work
Design actionable and equitable solutions that meet client needs, achieve program goals, and implement initiatives with clarity and quality
Support grantmakers, funders, and foundations to develop thoughtful, high-impact investment strategies that align with their goals, interests, and resources
We are a team of more than 60 former teachers, district and state education leaders, policy advisors, and grant makers who live and work virtually in more than 20 states and DC. Because of our experience, we approach the challenges our clients face with humility, realistic solutions, and a commitment to follow-through. Our culture is built on genuine care for our clients and for each other. We celebrate original thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurialism, authenticity and fun.
Our Equity Commitment
We recognize that in order to pursue our own organizational mission at Education First, we must approach our work by studying gaps and inequities, asking tough questions about structural racism and more deliberately engaging diverse voices in problem-solving. We’ve been building our own skills to deliver solutions that center racial equity, with particular attention to equitable ways of thinking and working, and we are committed to helping our clients do the same in projects that have a goal of increasing equity at their core. Within Education First, we have committed to building a race equity culture – creating the conditions to adopt antiracist mindsets and actions.
Black lives matter. We are collectively responsible to amplify and support Black students, families and leaders.
People are experts in their own experience. We cannot effectively support our clients to problem solve and innovate without centering the people they aim to serve.
Racism and inequity were designed, and can be redesigned. People make up the systems, policies and processes that govern our experience, and we must support our clients to explore their role in reimagining what could be possible.
For greater detail about our Equity Commitment, please visit our website.
Principals serve as senior leaders and strategists within the firm. Principals oversee the development of solutions for the firm’s clients and help position and market the firm as a leading thought partner to the nation’s most effective school reformers. The primary responsibilities of the Principal for Coherent Instructional, Assessment and Accountability Systems include:
Develop a vision/point of view and execute service offerings for foundations, nonprofits, school districts, CMOs and state education agencies that aim to help school systems build more powerful instructional, assessment and accountability systems, and to create greater coherence and integration particularly around academics and SEL.
Build long-term relationships with thought leaders, influencers and clients around the nation. Serve as accountable project leader on a variety of client engagements, supporting project managers to set and monitor project work plans and drive the project to completion at or under budget.
Manage business development planning and execution to meet our growth goals. Identify new clients, especially districts and CMOs, with whom we should partner. Build and deepen client relationships with a sales goal of at least $500,000 in the first full year and growing to at least $1,000,000 in future years through a combination of new business and expanding, extending or renewing existing client projects. Education First staff are rewarded for projects they help sell through the firm’s generous sales bonus program.
Oversee successful projects, including building capacity in and advising clients, and ensuring that project deliverables meet our excellence standard, including research plans, strategy and program documents, policy memos, briefs, status reports, interim reports, technical reports, presentations, abstracts and manuscripts.
Mentor, guide and manage team members; support inclusive project teams that challenge and empower all team members to grow and reach their potential.
Coordinate regularly with the project manager and client to ensure project success, including budgeting, planning and regular reporting against the contract, and providing and seeking feedback from the client and team members.
Contribute and deliver content for the firm’s website, policy papers, newsletters, op-eds, press releases and public speaking engagements.
Experience & Qualifications
15+ years designing, implementing and/or advocating for successful education policies designed to improve P-20 education outcomes for young people, with at least 5 years at a major school system.
Previous management or leadership roles in a school district, charter network and/or state education agency is essential. Experience with consulting, providing technical assistance or leading strategy development is a plus.
Strong belief in the need for and power of cross-functional management and collaboration inside public agencies and large organizations.
Experience cultivating trusting relationships and authentically engaging with system actors, particularly those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized.
Experience in designing and refining system level strategy and planning, especially developing strategic plans and/or implementing and adjusting strategies based on data.
Substantial relationships with thought leaders in the field. Strong, existing network to cultivate for sales and experience building strong relationships among philanthropic partners and thought leaders in the field. Experience fundraising and/or selling project work, developing budgets and managing projects.
Experience understanding, creatively using and securing federal, state and/or private philanthropic funding streams to advance priorities.
Experience designing or participating in high-value, high-leverage networks or communities of practice.
Proven ability to manage multiple projects and budgets under tight deadlines and to develop team members to consistently meet excellence standards.
Demonstrated experience managing people, especially those at different points in their careers and from a mix of diverse cultural identities, and working with diverse communities.
Ability to translate client materials/documentation into tools and products for a broader field.
Master’s degree or equivalent experience in public policy, public administration, business, education, Juris Doctor or related fields preferred.
Who You Are
You are committed to the vision of a more equitable education system in the U.S., including a willingness to examine the role of privilege, structural barriers, and inclusion in changing the trajectories of students furthest from opportunity.
Unwavering in your commitment to improving student learning and achievement and moving education systems beyond the status quo.
You have a history of bringing varying groups of stakeholders together to help them seek strategic common ground.
You are a strong, inclusive project manager.
You can lead through ambiguity to create clear structures that deliver high-quality results to clients.
You take initiative to resourcefully solve problems while anticipating and adjusting for the unexpected.
You are proactive in anticipating and adjusting for unexpected barriers to success.
You are self-motivated and results oriented.
You take ownership of your own development and derive satisfaction from supporting others to grow professionally.
You provide and receive feedback with ease.
You lead by influence – establishing open lines of communication and understanding and including the perspectives of others.
Location, Travel & Compensation
The Principal will primarily work from home but is expected to travel for in-person client meetings as needed (30-40% of the time) once it is safe to do so from a public health perspective.
Education First offers a market-based competitive salary, comprehensive and generous benefits package (including PPO health insurance, six weeks of paid time off/holidays and extended leave), work-life flexibility and professional development opportunities. The salary range for this position is $140,000 – $200,000 (with 20% of the offer supplemented by local market trends if that market is higher than the national market). We typically set initial starting salaries between the minimum and the 25th percentile of the pay range ($140,000 – $154,000) to ensure there is room for growth over time. Exceptions can be made for significantly more-experienced hires (e.g., if the position requires a minimum of 10 years of relevant experience, and the selected finalist has more than 18 years of relevant experience, or if the specialized skills demanded for the role and the market analysis recommend a higher starting salary).
We are excited to receive applications from a broad range of applicants as we grow our team to better reflect the diversity of the communities our firm is committed to serve. Enthusiastic candidates should apply online to submit their resume and their responses to each of the following prompts within the application portal, in lieu of a cover letter:
What brings you to Education First and what knowledge and skills would you bring to Education First to advance our work in the Engaged Students areas of focus?
Tell us about a time when you were responsible for managing resources (e.g., people, time, money) for a project. What resources adjustments did you make? How did you communicate forecast updates?
Tell us about a project that you managed that involved overseeing others’ work. How many people were on the project team and what were your responsibilities in relation to the other project team members?
Education First has a commitment to RIDE (Race, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) principles in how we operate internally and our work with clients. What are your reflections on how our RIDE commitment is reflected in your own personal values?
We do not expect you to spend a lengthy amount of time completing each question. Instead, we are looking for succinct responses (no more than 1-2 short paragraphs per question).
We plan to conduct interviews and share performance tasks with select candidates on a rolling basis. Ideally, we’d like our new Principal to start by July. Please, no phone calls, emails or other inquiries.
Education First actively engages our team with a robustRace, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RIDE)strategy to build our staff and organizational capacity to lead on issues of equity and to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the firm. As a proud equal opportunity employer, we strongly encourage applications from candidates of all races, national origins, ages, religions, creeds, veteran or disabled statuses, sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions.
About Education First Consulting
About Education First
Education First is a mission-driven education policy consultancy dedicated to ensuring that all students – and particularly students in poverty and students of color – are prepared for success in college, career, and life. We work with organizations that are shaping the future of P-16 education across the nation, including school networks and districts, state departments of education, policy and advocacy organizations, youth empowerment organizations, talent organizations and funders.