Multiple Consultants Literacy Landscape Assessment Toolkit Development - Education Systems and Policy Specialist (Early Reading/Literacy) and Education Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Consultant

Chevy Chase, Maryland, United States
Apply by 4 July 2018
Mid-level , Short-term contract assignment
Posted on 4 June 2018

Job Description

This position recruitment is open until filled. The following is a recruitment for an Education Systems and Policy Specialist (Early Reading/Literacy) and Education Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist to work on a task. Please note that URC cannot sub-contract this work to a firm. Consultants may choose to apply as a team, or apply as aligned to one of the qualification profiles outlined within. The candidate review team will consider interviewing jointly individuals who express preference to work as a partner team, however reserves the right to hire the most highly qualified individuals. Division & Project Overview: Global Reading Network (GRN) – Reading within Reach Project (REACH) URC’s Reading within Reach project serves as a secretariat for the Global Reading Network, and is based in URC’s International Development Group (IDG), one of three international program divisions at URC/CHS. The aim of this USAID-funded 5-year initiative is to build a Community of Practice, a professional network focused on improving reading outcomes in the primary grades. This network brings together governments, practitioners, civil society organizations, academics, funders, UN agencies, and other stakeholders invested to work collaboratively to improve quality and expand the reach of reading interventions around the world. An important sub-objective of Reading Within Reach is to support USAID and the Reading Community of Practice in developing metrics, measurements and intervention protocols and operational guidance which will support improved early grade reading programming. Introduction This year, as Reading within Reach team creates comprehensive training and professional resources to support effective design, implementation and supervision of reading programs, an important complementary effort is preparing guidance to support pre-program country-level diagnostics for reading programs in bi-lingual/multi-lingual environments. The product of this consultancy - the “Literacy Landscape Assessment” (LLA) toolkit - will inform USAID’s Country/Regional Strategic Planning and Project Appraisal Documents. The purpose of the LLA is to examine in-depth the policy, regulatory and operational environment factors that are influencing a country’s reading achievement. The LLA process will support improved targeting and scoping of early grade reading programs; elaboration of context-specific short-, medium and long-term performance indicators including around inclusion (social, gender, disabilities); and sustainability, partnership, and stakeholder engagement strategies. The toolkit to be prepared by this consultant team is to be generic and applicable across countries, but the team should advise on specific diagnostics which should be performed in crisis and conflict environments. Scope of Work The LLA team will consult program diagnostics, program reports and the research evidence base to inform development of the Literacy Landscape Assessment toolkit. The LLA team is expected to improve upon diagnostics previously used to support project appraisals, detailed design by implementing partners and other major donors (e.g. UNICEF, World Bank, DFID) and researchers in the global education space. The toolkit will provide guidance as to how to implement and use the results of systems research to inform project design decisions. This will include research into:
  • Implementation of previous education and assessment policies
  • Education Ministry’s Capacity to develop curricula, design curriculum materials and textbooks, hire, deploy, and retain qualified teachers, and maintain a reliant education management and information system
  • Teacher education systems, including the connections between education policy, teacher education and preparation, teacher classroom practices, community linguistic and cultural context, learner characteristics, linguistic and cognitive needs, learning standards and objectives, and actual curricula and textbooks
  • Quality of the teaching-learning environment, including availability of appropriate materials and delivery systems which facilitate access to learning for all learners
The toolkit will include a stock taking exercise on the work and activities of private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, religious organizations, and other important actors in the area of reading and literacy within the given context. The consultants will establish with the USAID Reading and Evidence Team members an agreed set of parameters for each research study to be carried out, considering commonly available data, level of effort, USAID agency priorities and needs for monitoring of program results. This will include a step by step framework for data collection processes and procedures. A brief module to accompany the LLA will be created for purpose of preparing USAID mission officers to supervise the work. Finally, the LLA team will propose a piloting process that will support the ongoing iterative process for implementing and improving the LLA. The consultants will report directly to the REACH team, however, the consultants will collaborate closely with the USAID Reading, Evidence, Inclusion and Education in Conflict and Crisis teams and other USAID Education experts to gain input for development, and organize an advisory group to gain input and resources from the global reading and education systems research community. The team will be able to engage with REACH’s Disabilities Research and Technology consultants and USAID Disabilities and Technology advisors, on incorporating these dimensions into the LLA. The consultants will have the support of REACH’s project coordinators, as needed, to organize any LLA-related consultation events. Primary responsibilities of the team include, but are not limited to:
  1. Initial proposal outlining research modules and questions for Literacy Landscape Assessment (LLA)
This proposal will be informed by the following tasks:
  • Review of existing high quality diagnostic tools tested by researchers and implementers;
  • Description of system factors which impact reading achievement, as based in global evidence available
  • Description of the factors that shape social and gender norms and how they interact with reading processes and achievement, as based on research and evidence available
  • Guidance on private and public stakeholder mapping which should support LLA process
  1. Final proposal including suggested parameters for studies, guidance on preferred analytical methods, and performance indicators
Tasks will include:
  • Guidance on where to find existing studies and data (e.g. Ministries of Education, SART, DEC, etc.)
  • Clarification of sources of data expected/required to complete studies, including suggestions for proxy data
  • Establishing the approximate state of education data availability in USAID project countries
  • Review current required and custom Standard Foreign Assistance Indicators and especially Education and Gender indicators and key issues narratives to identify the measurement gaps based on reading data as well as gender and social factors data
  • Recommending potential custom and mandatory performance and contextual indicators which would supplement Education Common indicators
  • Overseeing a peer review process for draft and final Literacy Landscape Assessment guidance
C) Guidance developed for USAID Missions on the LLA supervision process Guidance to be included in the module should include:
  • Steps for preparing a Literacy Landscape Assessment process;
  • Procurement planning guidance for LLA;
  • Supervising and monitoring the LLA process;
  • How to use LLA outcomes to inform root cause analysis, activity design (program targeting, cost scenarios), performance indicator selection, social and gender inclusion strategy, project risk analysis and mitigation strategy, required partner contribution/engagement and Mission advocacy planning
D) Preparation of an LLA Piloting Plan An LLA Piloting Plan will be prepared in consultation with the USAID Reading and Evidence teams. The Piloting Plan should identify:
  • Target countries for piloting of LLA tool
  • Piloting approach and timeline
Deliverables The project is expected to start in early July. The tasks must be completed by end October 2018, including all research and reporting. The level of effort for consultation activities is expected to be substantial. The consultant will not be performing any field research or conducting project visits to USAID partners countries. Each consultant will be individually contracted, one of whom is expected to be the Project Lead. Deliverable Estimated Due A) Brief on diagnostic tools and evidence base to be consulted to inform LLA development B) LLA development inception report 3 weeks after start Initial proposal for LLA modules and questions 8 weeks after start Final LLA Guidance 16 weeks after start Guidance for LLA Supervision by USAID missions 20 weeks after start LLA Piloting Plan 22 weeks after start Required experience and qualifications: The minimum qualifications required of individuals to be recruited for this effort are: A) Education Systems and Policy Specialist (Early Reading/Literacy) –
  • Minimum of 10 years’ experience required as a technical advisor for education quality improvement programs in developing country contexts, to include at least 3 years of field experience which involved planning with Ministries of Education
  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience required operating at a supervisory level with teams of researchers
  • Experience in both stable and unstable (conflict and crisis-affected) environments required
  • Demonstrated understanding of education policy and systems improvement issues, as indicated in program advisory experience
  • Demonstrated understanding of social and gender factors which influence learning outcomes
  • Wide range of publications and conference presentations in support of professional work
  • Masters’ Degree in education or related field required; PhD preferred
  • Candidates with professional level fluency in French, Spanish or Arabic in addition to English preferred
B) Education Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist (Early Reading/Literacy)
  • Minimum of 10 years’ experience in program monitoring and evaluation, at least 5 years of which involve developing, implementing and analyzing outcomes of program diagnostics to inform theory of change development, program design and implementation of education programs
  • Demonstrated understanding of early grade reading programming
  • Formative and summative evaluation experience required, in reading or in broader education quality improvement programs
  • Demonstrated experience developing, implementing or analyzing social and gender inclusion assessments
  • Wide range of publications and conference presentations in support of professional work
  • Masters’ Degree in education or related field required; PhD preferred.
  • Candidates with professional level fluency in French, Spanish or Arabic in addition to English preferred
To apply: The consultant will submit a cover letter referencing interest in the position and relevant experience in research, programming and evaluation as aligned with the required qualifications above. In addition, the consultant will provide a written statement, of no more than five (5) pages, which describes:
  • Relevance and benefit of country diagnostics to improved program design, implementation, and sustainability of basic skills programming including successful outcomes
  • The role of diagnostics in improved performance monitoring, formative and summative evaluation
  • Provides (non-specific) examples, based in field experience, of the types of country diagnostics which will be particularly critical to improved EGR program design, stakeholder engagement/partnership, and development of sustainability strategies
  • Outline initial considerations of unique research to inform reading/literacy programs in crisis and conflict settings, social and gender inclusion strategy for reading/literacy programs, technology interventions, and disabilities-focused programming

About the Organization

University Research Co., LLC (URC)
URC is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With a non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services (CHS), URC manages projects in over 45 countries, including the United States.

Established in 1965, URC offers a range of technical assistance to strengthen health and social systems and service quality by empowering communities and health workers to identify and scale up locally appropriate solutions to critical problems. Internationally, we expand access to and improve the quality of services addressing maternal, newborn, and child health; infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria; reproductive health and family planning; food and nutrition; and vulnerable children and families. In the US, we focus on improving communication related to issues like substance abuse, with a particular focus on reaching underserved populations.

URC’s mission is to provide innovative, evidence-based solutions to health and social challenges worldwide. Please join us in carrying out our mission (

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