Senior Researcher - Early Childhood Learning

Who We Are

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is a national organization that conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to shape education policies and improve learning for each and every child. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, LPI connects policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with the evidence, ideas, and actions needed to strengthen the pre-k to grade 12 education system and address the complex realities facing public schools and their communities. Working with policymakers, researchers, educators, community groups, and others who care about improving public schools, the Institute advances evidence-based policies that support empowering and equitable learning for all children.

The Position

LPI seeks an experienced Senior Researcher to join its team of research, policy, and communication staff to support LPI’s portfolio of early learning research. The ideal candidate will have an exceptional track record of conducting high-quality, mixed-methods research projects and will be conversant in qualitative and quantitative methods, with a passion for ensuring that all children have a high-quality education.

The Senior Researcher will be based in Palo Alto, CA or Washington, DC, and will conduct and lead research as part of the early childhood learning team, with a focus on one or more of the following topics: developing well-qualified, well-supported early educators, coaches, and administrators; bolstering policies for increasing access to high-quality early learning; building and improving quality rating and improvement systems; and understanding the costs and funding mechanisms for early childhood learning; among others. Our research agenda is shaped by policymakers’ needs, our commitment to an equitable education for all, and policy opportunities. Since all of our work is meant to inform policymaking, typical projects are focused on answering current policy questions and conducted within a fairly intensive time frame. The nature of our research reflects the specific questions we are addressing and the strength of the existing research base. When solid research is available, we conduct rigorous syntheses. When secondary data sets are available, we conduct secondary analyses. When necessary, we launch original data collection—primarily surveys and case studies.

The Senior Researcher will manage one or more such research projects, which will include primary responsibility for the research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting. We seek someone who can mentor staff and work well as part of a team. The successful candidate will work collaboratively with the immediate research team, relevant communications and policy staff, the leadership team, and external organizations. LPI also has access to the expert advice of nearly three dozen Senior Fellows in a range of methodologies and substantive areas. All research goes through an internal and external peer review process.

Major Responsibilities

  • Help conceptualize and organize LPI’s early childhood work.
  • Manage one or more research projects, including working with a team on research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
  • Attend and represent LPI at relevant meetings, symposia, and conferences and make public presentations on behalf of the organization.
  • Contribute to briefs, articles, monographs, blog posts, and other research and communication efforts.
  • Develop grant proposals and maintain relationships with funders.
  • Develop and sustain relationships with other researchers, stakeholder groups, and policymakers.
  • Contribute to the development of junior staff.

Qualifications and Experience

The ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • Doctoral degree in the social or behavioral sciences or public policy with a focus on education and 5 or more years relevant experience; or master’s degree with 10 or more years relevant experience
  • Demonstrated experience conducting and managing large-scale, multi-method research studies
  • A track record of scholarly publications, preferably in early childhood education
  • Strong methodological skills (preferably a combination of quantitative and qualitative)
  • Experience conducting policy-oriented research and communicating it to policy audiences
  • A strong knowledge of p–12 education issues and existing relationships in the field
  • Knowledge of and experience working in state and federal education policy arenas
  • Excellent and persuasive written and oral communication skills


The ideal candidate will possess many of the following dispositions:

  • Passion for and commitment to LPI’s mission
  • Passion for ensuring that all children receive empowering and equitable learning, especially historically underserved students
  • A commitment to supporting the learning of other team members
  • Demonstrated ability to plan effectively and the flexibility to handle the unexpected
  • Self-starter mentality and the ability to both work independently and foster collaborative working relationships, and to work well in a team-setting
  • Ability to execute and exhibit good judgment
  • An optimistic outlook and a flexible, innovative nature

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, short writing sample, and three professional references here. Candidates invited to continue through the interview process will be asked to complete a job-related task/performance assessment at that time. 

The Learning Policy Institute is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.