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Boston College Introduction

Founded in 1863, Boston College is a Jesuit, Catholic university located six miles from downtown Boston with an enrollment of 9,150 full-time undergraduates and 4,420 graduate and professional students. Ranked 31 among national universities, Boston College has 758 full-time and 1,096 FTE faculty, 2,750 non-faculty employees, an operating budget of $956 million, and an endowment in excess of $2.2 billion.

Job Description

PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) has an opening for a leadership position, Assistant Research Director, PIRLS Reading Assessment at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. With more than 60 countries participating, PIRLS is one of the most comprehensive, extensive, and widely respected reading achievement assessments in the world, providing internationally comparative data about how well children from different countries read after four years of primary schooling. PIRLS also collects extensive policy-relevant information about home supports for literacy and school environments for teaching and learning. 

PIRLS also encompasses PIRLS Literacy and ePIRLS, two innovative aspects of international assessment of reading comprehension. PIRLS Literacy, which assesses reading at the end of the primary school cycle in developing countries, provides valuable diagnostic information about strengths and weaknesses in students' reading skills and important policy information about the necessary steps to improve students' reading. ePIRLS, a computer-based component of PIRLS, enables the examination of the skills and strategies used in reading online. 

Reporting to the Executive Directors of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College, the Assistant Research Director, PIRLS Reading Assessment provides leadership and contributes substantively to the PIRLS assessment development, analysis, and dissemination, and assists in developing PIRLS as a strategic partner in global initiatives for assessing literacy outcomes. 

The Assistant Research Director, PIRLS Reading Assessment is responsible for managing and supervising major aspects of the PIRLS international assessment program, including the PIRLS international assessment of reading at the fourth grade, the PIRLS Literacy reading assessment for developing countries, and ePIRLS, the computer based reading assessment. The position requires travel to approximately six international meetings per year and supervises approximately three assistants.  

Specific Responsibilities Include:

1.   Managing day-to-day communication with the National Research Coordinators of the more than 60 countries participating in the  PIRLS/ePIRLS projects as well as PIRLS/ePIRLS project team members located at IEA headquarters in Amsterdam and the IEA Data Processing Center in Hamburg;

2.  Helping to organize and actively participating in the PIRLS International Meetings to train country representatives in PIRLS methods and procedures, including item development, constructed-response scoring methods, operational procedures, and using the PIRLS international databases to analyze results; 

3.  Overseeing the development of all PIRLS data collection instruments, including the passages and reading comprehension test items (PIRLS, PIRLS Literacy, and ePIRLS).

4.  Coordinating and coauthoring major PIRLS publications, including PIRLS International Reports of reading achievement results across the countries, Technical Reports, and Encyclopedias describing the curricular and instructional contexts for learning to read in the PIRLS countries, and assist in developing and writing new proposals for PIRLS as necessary.

5.  Contributing to the production of the PIRLS International databases and user guides;

6.  Being proficient in using the TIMSS and PIRLS databases to conduct research on the TIMSS and PIRLS data, and disseminating findings at international meetings.


Position Details: Department: 055262 - TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center

Position: 00002956 - Assistant Research Director, PIRLS Reading Assessment


  • PhD in field of expertise (or MA plus equivalent experience)
  • 5+ years of experience in field
  • Advanced qualifications and experience in educational assessment
  • Experience in developing test items and instruments for reading assessments
  • Data analysis and research experience with large scale assessment data
  • Experience in project coordination, including scheduling and reporting
  • Experience in writing research proposals and publications
  • Strong communication skills, both oral and written
  • The ability to work with others under pressure to adhere to tight deadlines
  • Exercise maturity of judgment
  • Travel required to meet project needs, mostly international, some domestic, and to
    promote the TIMSS & PIRLS projects

    This is a grant funded position. 



Closing Statement

Boston College conducts background checks as part of the hiring process.

Boston College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of any legally protected category including disability and protected veteran status. To learn more about how BC supports diversity and inclusion throughout the university please visit the Office for Institutional Diversity at