Abt Associates seeks a Reading Assessment Specialist for a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded contract to refine the early grade reading assessment system in Malawi and build the capacity of communities, teachers, and Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MoEST) to consistently use this system to improve learner outcomes. The Reading Assessment Specialist will be stationed in Lilongwe, Malawi for a period of 4 years and will provide leadership, management, and strategic direction for the project. This position will be responsible for guiding senior technical staff and for ensuring program responsiveness and quality of work along with efficient use of resources and achievement of results, reporting to the Chief of Party (COP). In carrying out these responsibilities the Reading Assessment Specialist will work in partnership with USAID, national- and local-government agencies and officials, and other partners and project staff.
Key Roles and Responsibilities
- Main point of contact with the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MoEST) and other the Government of Malawi counterparts for the design of assessments.
- Lead an organizational capacity needs assessment of MoEST’s ability to conduct sustained National Reading Assessments (NRAs), considering both gaps in personnel and institutional capacity.
- Lead a workshop to develop assessments instruments, including key stakeholders.
- Lead adaptation, piloting, and equating of all of the NRA tools and the implementation of the NRA and capacity-building efforts with MoEST.
- Train local subcontractor, as well as designated MoEST staff who will lead future assessments, to use the NRA and classroom observation tools as well other tools deemed necessary.
- Lead development, alignment, leveling, and equating of school- and community-based assessment tools.
- Produce technical manuals with guidelines for implementing, equating versions, and interpreting results of assessments.
- Lead workshops to develop benchmarks for early reading.
- Organize teacher training using a cascading train-the-trainer model.
- Develop systematic assessments of English language proficiency for primary level teachers.
- Maintains productive working relationships with USAID, project partners and key counterparts, and reports to the Deputy Chief of Party.
Preferred Skills / Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree in international education, non-formal and/or other alternative education approaches, basic education, teacher training, and/or social/behavioral sciences;
- At least 4 years of technical experience in reading assessment development in a developing country context. This experience should involve direct work experience at multiple levels of assessment in the school system including national, school, classroom, and community levels;
- At least 2 years of experience in designing and coordinating trainings in technical areas relevant to YESA, demonstrated ability to effectively transfer skills and knowledge to program participants is essential;
- Experience coordinating reading assessments with scope and content similar to YESA;
- Technical ability to develop materials to support effective capacity building in reading assessments at multiple levels in the school system;
- Significant experience in East Africa is critical with a preference given to experience in Malawi, including thorough knowledge of specific educational priorities.
- Demonstrated experience in capacity development with ministry of education staff and teachers.
- Experience working with USAID highly prioritized.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills.
- Fluency in English required.
- ( 2+ ) years of experience OR the equivalent combination of education and experience.
About the OrganizationAbt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development.
Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1965, Abt Associates was built on the concept that sound information and empirical analysis are the best foundations for effective decision making. The firm blends the subject matter expertise of our staff with technical capabilities in applied research, program implementation, and data collection to shape policy, strengthen systems, measure performance, and deliver other solutions to our public and private sector clients.
Examples of Abt Associates’ work include nationally recognized research, evaluation, and technical assistance to improve the efficiency of healthcare systems, the effectiveness of government housing programs, the production of food, and the measurement of public opinion.
Abt’s staff of more than 2000 includes national and international experts who are known for their understanding of communities and governments worldwide, innovative research techniques, and insightful—and often groundbreaking—analyses and recommendations.
Approximately 51 percent of our staff has graduate degrees; one in six has a doctorate. Our staff’s educational and professional disciplines include economics, engineering, environmental analysis, epidemiology, food security, health, housing, international development, psychology, social science, statistics, and survey methodology. Abt’s research staff is experienced with prominent statistical software packages, including SPSS, SAS, and STATA, along with qualitative software such as NVIVO and Atlas.
In 2011, Abt Associates was ranked among the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 development innovators. Abt has offices in Atlanta, Ga.; Bethesda, Md.; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Durham, N.C.; and New York City and program offices in nearly 40 countries in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa. www.abtassociates.com