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Director of Research

CASEL |  IL 60001 USA | Full Time - School Year | Revised: 10/12/2017

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        The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL’s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of preschool through high school education across the country. We believe that systemic educational efforts that promote students’ social and emotional competence are a key ingredient that will enable all young people in our diverse society to lead healthier, happier, more productive, and fulfilling lives. 

With committed and growing philanthropic funding and a cohesive strategic plan, CASEL is endeavoring to: 

  • Support the implementation and document the impact of systemic SEL in large school districts and socio-demographically diverse school districts across this nation.
  • Capture, refine, and test the learnings to advance the research base for the process of implementing systemic SEL and share that knowledge broadly.
  • Identify and evaluate interventions and assessment tools to accelerate high-quality implementation of SEL nationwide.
  • Partner with SEL program providers, colleges of education, professional organizations, school districts, and researchers to support scaling of SEL.
  • Promote federal and state policies that encourage academic, social, and emotional learning.
  • Strategically communicate to foster widespread demand for SEL as an essential part of students’ education at the classroom, school, district, state, and national level.

         CASEL is overseen by a distinguished 11-member Board of Directors. They include Timothy P. Shriver (Chair), Ann S. Nerad ( Vice Chair), Larry Aber, Stephen D. Arnold, Catherine Bradshaw, Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah Delisle, Paul Goren, Kim Schonert-Reichl, Andrea Wishom, and Roger P. Weissberg (Vice Chair). This search will fill one of the most pivotal top-level positions: the Director of Research. The Director of Research will help ensure the CASEL research team operates with the appropriate and efficient infrastructure, policies, and practices that will be important to fulfilling CASEL’s goal of making evidence-based SEL an integral part of children’s educational experience.                                                                                                                                                                                               


Reporting to the Vice President for Programs and Practice, and working very closely with the Director of Assessment and Continuous Improvement and Vice President of Research, the Director of Research will be responsible for planning and execution of continuous improvement technical assistance with 5 collaborating districts (and up to 7 schools within each district), while also coordinating activities with out-of-school time intermediary organizations and providers, collaborative partners, and a project external evaluator. In this role, s/he will oversee the process of identifying and executing data collection and continuous improvement methods and protocols; analyzing data and preparing and presenting findings; collaborating with both internal and external research partners; working closely with district leadership, Research & Evaluation teams, and out-of-school time program providers; and cultivating and facilitating learning communities focused on continuously improving SEL, and also be responsible for extracting, synthesizing and presenting learnings across districts.

The ideal candidate for the Director of Research position will have strong experience applying concepts and strategies from improvement science to support large scale implementation and foster systemic change. S/he will be broadly knowledgeable about SEL, positive youth development, and/or related forms of developmentally appropriate educational practice. S/he will be a gifted leader, project manager and communicator, one who thinks strategically, and inspires others to their best efforts.

 Responsibilities include: 

  • Collaborate to develop and deliver trainings for district administrators, schools, and coaches on topics related to research, assessment, and continuous improvement.
  • Oversee and coordinate the gathering of critical information about implementation progress and outcome improvement from districts and OST partners.
  • Collaborate with districts, schools, and OST partners on development and execution of continuous improvement systems that drive successfully SEL implementation and outcome improvement.
  • Participate in regular calls with third-party evaluator to coordinate data collection and continuous improvement activities to maximize efficiency and support to partner cities.
  • Travel to partner cities to establish relationships with district teams and OST providers, and to collaborate with the SEL and Research & Evaluation teams (up to twice a year, 3 to 4 days at a time, five cities).
  • Assist partner districts with developing or refining logic models and plans for continuous improvement.
  • Collaborate with CASEL team and partner districts to provide, and foster the effective use of, data dashboards focused on SEL implementation.
  • Work with district partners, OST providers, and external evaluator to plan and facilitate professional learning communities focused on learning from data and improving implementation through shared learnings within each city.
  • Draft and disseminate practice briefs and webinars based on project learnings and best practices, as needed.
  • Continuously review and improve CASEL implementation tools, especially those focused on assessment and continuous improvement.
  • Collaborate with other members of the CASEL research team to finalize and disseminate key grant deliverables and draft annual grant reports, according to funder requirements.
  • Perform other related duties and participate in special projects as assigned.


 Although no one candidate may embody all of the desired qualities, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and personal attributes:

  •  Doctorate in a relevant field (education, public policy, psychology, human development, prevention science, sociology), preferably with a focus on preK-12 education or youth development
  • Five or more years of experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research studies and evaluation, with a focus on preK-12 education or youth development
  • Experience working in a school district and/or collaborating with educators to develop and implement evaluation and tracking systems
  • Experience using improvement science to provide technical assistance to districts on continuous improvement of large scale implementation and foster systemic change
  • Experience working to translate research findings into products appropriate and appealing for practice and nonprofessional audiences (e.g., developing consumers’ guides, high quality videos, online professional development courses, webinars)
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications skills, including the ability to connect in culturally competent ways with local stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Passion for social and emotional learning, and for CASEL’s mission

 Personal Characteristics 

  • Intellectual curiosity and a commitment to continuously improving evidence-based educational strategies
  • A talent for recruiting, developing, and inspiring staff; a commitment to the professional growth of staff
  • Strongly collaborative; someone who enjoys being a part of a collaborative team
  • Cultural competence and  enjoyment  working  with  people  from  diverse           backgrounds
  • Commitment to improving public education and providing low-income students from diverse backgrounds with excellent educational opportunities
  • Excellent strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as advanced skills in managing and executing multiple projects according to organizational priorities.
  • Integrity, resilience, and stamina; grace in dealing with a broad spectrum of personalities; good humor in leading the day-to-day work of the organization 


Please email a thoughtful cover letter and resume outlining how your skills and experience meet the qualifications of the position and stating how you heard about this opportunity to Please include the position title in the subject line of your email message. We regret that we will not be able to respond to phone inquiries about this position. 


CASEL seeks to maintain compensation packages competitive within the nonprofit and education sectors, commensurate with experience.


Job Detailstop

Location IL, United States
Categories Director/Manager/Coordinator
Organization Type Non-profit Organization
Experience Years 5 yrs

Location Maptop

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