Education Measurement Fellow (Post Doc or Junior Faculty)

South Africa
United States
Other advanced degree
Language Requirement 
Length of Commitment 
One year
Start Date 

Candidates are strongly encouraged to apply by May 31, 2018.

The J-PAL Education Sector is recruiting an Education Measurement Fellow (Post-Doc or Junior Faculty on a Sabbatical). This position is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. We are also open to basing the role at a J-PAL’s Regional Office in Chile, France, India, Indonesia, or South Africa based on a candidate’s preference and work authorization options.

The Education sector is led by Co-Chairs Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) and Phil Oreopoulus (University of Toronto), managed by John Floretta (J-PAL Policy Director), and staffed by three Associate-level at J-PAL Global/MIT. The J-PAL education sector runs the Post-Primary Education Initiative and North America Education Technology RFP, synthesizes evidence to create J-PAL bulletins and policy insights, and shares evidence with policymakers in the United States and globally.

The Education Measurement Fellow will work under the guidance of Prof. Muralidharan, with support from Prof. Abhijeet Singh (Stockholm School of Economics, J-PAL Post Primary Initiative Special Invitee), on an exciting new body of work aimed at improving the measurement of learning outcomes in education research (especially in developing countries) and enabling scientifically valid comparisons across countries and contexts of learning levels, and of the effect sizes of interventions to improve learning.

There has been an explosion of well-identified, high-quality evaluations in developing countries over the past 15 years – especially through the use of Randomized Controlled Trials or RCT’s.[1] However, there are key challenges in the comparability of the causal estimates using the tests that are typically used in a lot of education research (without adequate attention paid to test construction and design). First, impact estimates can be sensitive to test construction, in particular floor and ceiling effects and range of competences tested.[2] Second, comparing standard deviation increases of test scores across contexts is sensitive to differences in the underlying variance of learning levels in study populations.[3]  In response to these issues, the J-PAL education team aims to create global public goods in education measurement to allow researchers to sample items from a global item bank (to construct good tests) and report effect sizes that can be interpreted on a common scale.


Working under the direction of Prof. Karthik Muralidharan, the Education Measurement Fellow will spearhead work to conceptualize, create, and operationalize a bank of test questions which will grow over time. The fellow will be expected to work closely with leading education researchers and psychometricians at J-PAL and other leading universities, the World Bank, UNESCO, and the Center for Global Development. It will also involve developing processes to move from concept to bringing a “World Item Bank” into reality as a repository where individual researchers add questions and data (from the settings where these are administered) to the database and sample items from it for individual studies (which will allow the levels and gains in learning levels in different settings to be compared against international benchmarks).

A key expectation of the position is that it will also lead to co- and single authored papers on psychometrics, external validity, and comparability of results. Our hope is that the fellowship will be a springboard for a career in academia, think tanks, or intellectual leadership roles in education policy.  

The Education Measurement Fellow will report to Prof. Muralidharan (Co-Chair of the J-PAL Education Sector) on intellectual and research matters, and work with John Floretta (J-PAL Education Sector Manager and J-PAL Director of Policy) on operational matters including outreach to partners.


Candidates should have earned a PhD in education, economics, on public policy by June 2018. While the default expectation is that we will hire a post-doctoral fellow, we are also open to considering applications from faculty members who would like to lead this project on a sabbatical or staff researchers in other organizations who would like to lead this project.

Candidates are expected to be well-versed in quantitative techniques for analysis of education policies. Familiarity with techniques in education testing and psychometrics will be a strong advantage. Additional factors that will favorably influence selection include: (a) applied econometrics skills; (b) education research experience in developing countries, (c) econometric comparisons of outcomes across contexts and meta analyses; and, (d) evidence of managing complex projects with multiple stakeholders. 

[1] See Muralidharan “Field Experiments in Education in Developing Countries” for an overview.
[2] See appendix D on ‘Test Design’ of Muralidharan et al. “Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India
[3] See blog post by Abhijeet Singh in World Bank Development Impact Blog, “How Standard is a Standard Deviation?

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Have permanent U.S. work authorization or eligibility for post-doctoral visa under the J-1 category or are you qualified for work authorization in Chile, France, India, Indonesia, or South Africa? Apply now.

1. Create a single PDF with the filename “Education Fellow_Lastname_Firstname” that includes:

  • One-page cover letter stating:
    • Why you’re interested
    • Why you’re qualified
  • Curriculum vitae or resume (no more than two pages), including references.
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate and graduate courses (unofficial transcripts accepted) 

2. E-mail the PDF to with the subject line “Education_Fellow_Lastname_Firstname”

Applicants who successfully advance to the next stage will be required to submit two recommendation letters. (It is preferred for candidates to have letters of recommendations submitted at the time of application if possible but letters can also come at the next stage of the process.) Letter writers should e-mail the recommendations from their professional or academic email address to with the subject line “Recommendation Letter_ApplicantLastname_ApplicantFirstname.

Please note this position is not eligible for US visa sponsorship (other than a J-1). 

Given the volume of applications received, only candidates shortlisted for an interview will be contacted.