Senior Consultant (Coherent Instructional, Assessment and Accountability Systems), Engaged Students Team
Overview of the Opportunity
We are seeking an emerging leader who is able to recognize, respond and engage deeply in emerging trends in academics, assessment and/or accountability policies and systems; who believes in the importance of integrating academics with social and emotional learning; and who brings a clear instructional perspective and racial equity lens to their work in academics, assessment and/or accountability. This Senior Consultant will join the Engaged Students team, one of three “home teams” at Education First. 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 Engaged Students team’s work focuses on supporting and sustaining the creation of just, equitable, rigorous and engaging learning environments.
The Senior Consultant will understand systems change, be a rigorous strategic and analytical thinker, enjoy managing complex projects and coaching other team members, and understand from first-hand experience how instructional and assessment policies and systems are designed and/or implemented. The Senior Consultant will advise systems leaders and shape, manage and participate on strategy, research, coaching and program design projects with school systems, state education agencies, foundations and nonprofit organizations at the local, state, national and federal levels. The Senior Consultant will help clients improve their academics, assessment, accountability and/or data use system-level policies, strategies and practices, and coach client organizations and other Education First staff on issues of standards-aligned and curriculum-connected formative, diagnostic, interim assessments and summative measures of academic achievement and whole child development.
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.
Senior Consultants direct the overall work of client engagements, managing project teams and client relationships and ensuring on-time, high-quality deliverables. The primary responsibilities of the Senior Consultant are:
Discern client needs, develop trusting relationships and manage complex and challenging engagements involving senior executives in some of the nation’s leading school systems, states and organizations.
Understand root causes, design with and for people most proximate to the problems and deliver equitable, effective and innovative solutions to address client challenges.
Develop and execute on project work plans in the firm’s core service areas that are customized according to client needs and budget constraints; adapt these plans flexibly during the project to reflect changes in project requirements, while adhering to the budget and staffing and meeting client goals and deadlines.
Build and lead inclusive project teams on which members experience positive professional growth and where constructive feedback is regularly shared and accepted.
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.
Skill navigating a complex ecosystem of partners, leveraging expertise and driving towards impact.
Utilize expert facilitation skills and understanding of adult learning principles to design and facilitate effective client meetings and internal project team meetings, and to coach other team members to design, present and facilitate client and team meetings.
Aim for $250,000 in sales (or mission-aligned projects) per year (not required but strongly encouraged; Education First staff are rewarded for projects they help sell through the firm’s generous sales bonus program).
Experience & Qualifications
10+ years implementing and/or advocating for successful education policies designed to improve P-20 education outcomes for young people, in settings including education reform organizations, foundations, governor’s offices, state boards/departments of education, or major school systems/school networks
5+ years of strong, inclusive project management experience, including juggling several complex projects at once, developing work plans, maintaining project budgets, managing risks and meeting deadlines and targets.
Direct experience in a school district and/or state education agency.
Deep understanding of instructional practice, academic strategy or assessments and/or social and emotional learning. Knowledge of professional development strategies for a set of schools or an entire system; data-driven instruction and/or formative, interim and curriculum-embedded assessment.
Strong client management, communications and relationship-building skills and experience.
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.
Experience working collaboratively in diverse team environments that require strong interpersonal skills and high emotional intelligence.
Ability to synthesize complex ideas from technical literature and qualitative research into a clear storyline for reports and presentations. Skilled at building well-organized and compelling client-facing PowerPoint presentations.
Write clearly, concisely and in a professional tone.
Highly skilled facilitator with a range of stakeholder groups and clients.
Bachelor’s degree (required). Advanced degree in public policy, public administration, business, education or a related field, or equivalent experience (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.
You are a strong, inclusive project manager.
You have a history of bringing varying groups of stakeholders together to help them seek strategic common ground.
You are self-motivated and results oriented.
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 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 Senior Consultant 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 $104,000 – $152,000 (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 ($104,000 – $116,000) 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? What challenges came up during the project and how were they addressed? What was the final result of the project?
Education First is committed 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). Please submit all completed application materials by May 21, 2021.
We plan to conduct screening interviews on a rolling basis and share performance tasks with select candidates by late May. Interviews with top candidates will occur in June. Ideally, we’d like our new Senior Consultant to start in 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.
Telecommuting is allowed.
About Education First Consulting
Education First is a national education policy and strategy firm with a seasoned team of trusted advisors to the leaders responsible for delivering what many Americans want most: public education that effectively prepares all students for success in college, careers and a world of constant change. We were founded in 2006 in order to fill a need in the field for excellent consulting and advising delivered by educators and education policy advisors.
Our mission is to deliver exceptional ideas, experience-based solutions and results so that all students – and particularly low-income students and students of color – are prepared for success in college, career and life. We work closely with policymakers, practitioners, funders and advocates to design and accelerate policies and plans that support strong systems, outstanding educators, engaged students and effective organizations and investments.
We are a team of about 60 consultants who live in nearly 20 different states and work across the nation. We are educators, policy advisors, advocates and funders. We have served local, state and national clients in more than 40 states. We understand the complexity of public education ...– from the classroom to national policy – and we know how to navigate it. We rely on our trusted relationships and deep knowledge to develop solutions that bridge the gap between visionary leadership and pragmatic implementation. We also are hard-working and light-hearted, passionate about student success and obsessed with quality and professional growth; these are just a few of the traits we encourage and cultivate at Education First. Our vibrant culture is built upon our core ideals: original thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurialism, authenticity and fun.