Cupertino, CA 95014
Position Announcement : Research Associate
The Sobrato Family is committed to building a strong and vibrant Silicon Valley community through business and philanthropic leadership. The Sobrato Family Foundation (Foundation) operates primarily as a place-based grant maker that invests in organizations serving the residents most in need in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda counties. The Foundation utilizes both real estate and cash to achieve a positive local impact, by providing in-kind office and meeting space at its three nonprofit centers in Redwood Shores, San Jose and Milpitas; awarding multi-year grants for general operating support to a wide-range of Silicon Valley nonprofits; and implementing two place-based strategic grantmaking approaches focused on expanding opportunities for low-income beneficiaries: the 21st Century Education and the Pathways for Success programs.
In addition, the Foundation developed the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model, to accelerate the success of English Learner (EL) students in preschool and elementary school. The model was developed in 2007-2008, piloted in three schools in 2008-2013, and has been rapidly replicating since 2013 – with over 100 active sites that are located in Silicon Valley, other parts of the Bay Area, the Sacramento region, the Central Valley, and in Southern California.
Over the next 12 months, SEAL is launching as an independent nonprofit organization with a focus on research, policy/advocacy, and practice. As a complement to SEAL’s growth, the Foundation has begun to pursue opportunities for statewide advocacy around the needs of English Learner students, and for advancing research-based education policy that will better support this critical, rapidly growing population of children in California.
About the Model:
The SEAL model is a comprehensive approach of intensive, enriched language education for the implementation of next generation content standards, with a strong focus on building the capacity of educators and public school systems to fully support the learning needs of their youngest English Learners. SEAL was designed and founded by Dr. Laurie Olsen, a national expert in English Learner education who is now a strategic advisor to SEAL, and Dr. Anya Hurwitz serves as its Executive Director. Core principles of the model include: viewing bilingualism and EL students as an asset; all students and ELs in particular learn best through thematic, hands-on, exploratory and inquiry-based curriculum and pedagogy; oral language development is foundational to literacy; students achieve more quickly and at a higher level when they pursue schooling in systems that are aligned, coherent, and which provide consistency in learning strategies across the early education environment and primary grades in K-12. The SEAL model is a research-based approach, intended to support educators in enacting the best current knowledge about child development and academic learning for English Learners. The model has also been replicated with a desire to demonstrate to policymakers, and others interested in shaping policy, how school systems can be incentivized and supported to make substantial shifts in practice that reflect current or potential policy imperatives.
The Research Associate will contribute to SEAL’s research and evaluation activities and support the development and execution of SEAL’s broader research agenda. Current research and evaluation activities include:
- The ongoing evaluation of the SEAL model. Current evaluation is being conducted by external researchers; SEAL’s research team aids with data collection and the dissemination of preliminary and final research findings to district partners and funders. Furthermore, this role will help strengthen and build internal capacity to do ongoing program evaluation of the model.
- The refinement and operationalization of SEAL’s Depth of Implementation Tool (DOI). SEAL’s DOI was developed primarily to document the levels of SEAL implementation in our partner districts that are participating in the SEAL evaluation. However, it was also intended to be used to improve SEAL implementation across all partner districts and schools. The research associate would contribute to the ongoing refinement, piloting and validation of the DOI instrument for evaluation purposes, as well as the development of supplementary materials and protocols to assist SEAL trainers and SEAL partner districts in using the tool to strengthen implementation of the SEAL model in their respective sites.
- The evaluation of the Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Project (BTPDP). This grant-funded project involves ten districts and is designed to increase the supply and expertise of bilingual teachers, and their placement in bilingual classrooms.
Essential Functions and Description of Duties:
- Providing data management support for current and future research activities, including but not limited to:
- Compiling and tracking information in spreadsheets and databases.
- Tabulating data and producing effective graphs/charts/displays.
- Cleaning, organizing, and analyzing data.
- Synthesizing key findings from SEAL’s external evaluation for district partners, funders, and other interested parties.
- Assisting with the writing of research proposals, manuscripts and reports.
- Assisting with the analysis of internally collected data for program improvement as well as externally collected data related to SEAL’s evaluation and the progress of SEAL’s partner sites.
- Assisting with data collection activities related to SEAL’s evaluation as well as program improvement.
- Conducting literature searches and reviews on topics of interest to SEAL’s leadership and trainers.
- Participating in research team meetings and other research-related meetings as appropriate.
- Assisting with the preparation for research and evaluation meetings with SEAL’s internal research team, SEAL’s external research partners, SEAL’s partner sites, funders and others.
- Communicating with SEAL’s partner sites and research partners regarding research and evaluation-related matters.
- Maintaining good relations with SEAL’s partner sites, research partners, California Department of Education staff, funders, and collaborators.
Qualifications, Skills, Experience and Education:
- Master’s degree required; Doctoral degree preferred. Candidate must have taken and successfully completed college coursework covering research methods, statistics and quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
- Minimum of 3-5 years of experience with education research and evaluation activities, preferably related to English Learners.
- Strong data management skills and some data analysis experience, including:
- Compiling and tracking information in spreadsheets and databases.
- Summarizing information using descriptive statistics, tables, and figures.
- Supporting quantitative and/or qualitative analyses, including cleaning, organizing, and analyzing data.
- Experience working with diverse data sets, including school district data and publicly available state education data.
- Knowledge of English Learner issues, Early Childhood Education, student equity issues, systemic reform in education, and teacher capacity-building, particularly as it relates to marginalized populations highly desired. Two-three years of experience in English Learner education strongly preferred. Strong desire to improve the lives of English Learners required.
- Experience conducting literature reviews and producing publications of research findings for a variety of audiences.
- Strong learner disposition with the ability to make meaning and synthesize new or unfamiliar research, ideas and theories.
- Able to effectively communicate (verbally and in writing) research findings to diverse audiences, including education researchers, education practitioners, and families/community members.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills in general, including the ability to write clearly and succinctly, and to competently proofread one’s own and others’ writing. Extraordinary diligence and attention to detail.
- Strong interpersonal skills to work with diverse populations and a wide range of professionals, including educators at all levels, education researchers, foundation staff, and education equity advocates.
- Works well independently and within a team, demonstrating a high degree of initiative, flexibility, and ability to collaborate.
- Exceptional organizational and multi-tasking skills, including the ability to prioritize responsibilities in a fast-moving and rapidly changing environment.
- Proficiency in Microsoft applications (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel) and other basic computer skills required. Experience with cloud-based platforms (e.g., G Suite) and with research software and online surveys (e.g., SAS, STATA, R, Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey) strongly preferred. Experience with data visualization tools (e.g., Tableau, Qlikview, Plotly) desirable.
- Understanding of research ethics and requirements, including a proven ability to handle confidential information appropriately required. Current certification of Research and Ethics training desirable.
- Salary commensurate with experience
- Highly competitive benefits package
- Full-time, exempt position
Equal Employment Opportunity:
The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer, welcomes a diverse pool of applicants, and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit. Foundation policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws.
Physical Demands and Working Conditions:
It is expected that the successful candidate will reside in the greater Los Angeles or Orange County regions, and primarily work remotely and in the field, so reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license is required. Job demands will require long periods of sitting and computer work, some lifting up to 15 pounds may be required. Periodic virtual and in-person interactions with SEAL’s Director of Research and Evaluation and other staff members, SEAL’s research partners and sites, and other external constituents are anticipated. Occasional travel for meetings is expected, and is estimated to be no more than 10% of the time.