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Student Employment Positions

Beyond Test Scores Research Assistant – Secondary and Higher Education

Research Assistants will work with researchers at Salem State University (Dr. James Noonan) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (Dr. Jack Schneider), in partnership with the Massachusetts Teachers Associations and community members in five school districts across the state, to convene community-based focus groups and develop a holistic set of measurement tools to better capture and communicate broadly the characteristics of a "good school.”

Duties and Responsibilities

Specifically, Research Assistants (RA's) will be jointly responsible for the following tasks:

  • Focus group design, documentation, and facilitation. RA's will work with the research team to design focus group protocols and a plan for documenting focus group discussions. In addition, RA's will be asked to co-facilitate at least one (and possibly more depending on their availability and interest).

  • Data synthesis and development of school quality frameworks. Following focus groups, RA's will write brief memos outlining themes that emerged in the discussion and how these themes reflected or diverged from other groups. At the conclusion of the focus groups in each district, the research team will draw on these research memos and other documentation (e.g., participant notes, transcripts) to draft a school quality framework and have frameworks vetted by community stakeholders.

  • Measurement development.After frameworks are finalized, the research team will investigate a broad cross-section of potential measurement tools – both existing measures as well as the possible creation of new measures – that align with each district’s school quality framework. Proposals for aligned measures will be delivered to community stakeholders.

  • Team meetings. Occasionally, SSU research team members may be asked to participate in meetings or convenings of the full project team (i.e., at UML and/or the MTA) -- for example, to discuss project goals and progress or to share key learnings and/or dilemmas.

Minimum Qualifications

Successful Research Assistants (RA’s) should possess the following skills:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Interest in education policy, especially in how school quality is assessed and discussed
  • Familiarity with (or a willingness to learn) the basics of qualitative research, in particular observation protocols and interviewing skills
  • Familiarity with the public education system in Massachusetts
  • Previous public speaking experience is helpful but not required
  • Fluency in languages other than English – including Spanish and Portuguese – is helpful but not required




James Noonan | 978.542.3040

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