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Post Doctoral Research Associate

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

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Job Details

Job location: Charlottesville, VA

Employment Type: Full-time
Posted data: 2021-11-14
Req: R0027744

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener (PALS) ( at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate. The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener (PALS) is the state-provided screening tool for the Virginia Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI). EIRI allocates funds to help participating school divisions identify children in need of additional instruction and to provide early intervention services. As part of a 20-year long partnership, PALS works directly with VDOE to provide data about literacy development across the state. PALS also works with teachers and school/division administrators around data use, reporting, and professional development. Starting in the 2021 school year, the PALS team will be piloting new forms to update the assessment. Specifically, the Postdoctoral Research Associate will engage in both academic and operational measurement/latent variable modeling work related to developing a vertically scaled measure of early literacy and accruing validity evidence to support the measure’s intended use.

Responsibilities: The incumbent will present research findings at professional conferences and in scholarly journals, as well as work on academic publishing with the Principal Investigator and other Research Associates and Faculty. They will have the opportunity to attend research meetings and workshops within the University and externally as appropriate, and participate in the research speaker series. The scholar will also receive mentoring on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills, the preparation of grant proposals, and responsible research practices. Incumbents may attend as time permits regularly scheduled research-related activities at the University of Virginia in the areas of research methods, policy analysis, and early literacy.

Job Description: The Post-doctoral Research Associate will support (and, in some cases, help lead) a host of research activities related to developing a new vertically scaled early literacy screener to be used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to identify students in early grades who need reading supports. Specific activities will include (but are not necessarily limited to):

(1) data collection and cleaning,

(2) conducting item analyses rooted in classical test theory,

(3) fitting factor analytic models to examine factor structure,

(4) fitting item response theory (IRT) models to calibrate and score new items, and

(5) performing linking and equating tasks necessary to the development of a vertical scale. As the project progresses, the Research Associate will also examine and accrue validity evidence to support the intended use of the measure as an early literacy screener.

Required Qualifications: An earned doctorate in quantitative methods, psychometrics/measurement, or quantitative psychology with an interest in developing or further developing research strength in the area of academic and operational psychometrics. Outstanding interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills are essential.

Compensation: $60,000. All full-time employees receive a comprehensive benefits package.

Application Instructions: Please apply through Workday, and search for "Postdoctoral Research Associate". Complete an application online and attach a cover letter, a CV/resume and 3 references all into the resume submission field. Multiple documents can be submitted into this one field. Alternatively, merge all documents into one PDF for submission. Internal applicants must apply through their UVA Workday profile by searching 'Find Jobs'. For questions about the application process, please contact Margaret Weeks, Academic Recruiter.

This is a restricted position and continuation is dependent upon the availability of funding and satisfactory performance. The University will perform background checks on all new hires prior to employment. This position cannot offer sponsorship.

In alignment with President Ryan’s UVA’s strategic plan, CASTL is committed to:

  • Recruiting talented and diverse doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and staff.
  • Recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce and providing an inclusive and supportive environment in which staff and faculty are recognized as integral to the success of our work.
  • Promoting a culture of integrity, mutual respect, excellence, collaboration and innovation.

COVID Vaccination Requirement

Due to the scope of President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 issued in early September, all University employees, including remote employees, must receive their final vaccination dose by January 4, 2022, unless they have a University-approved religious or medical exemption. The University has updated policy SEC-045 to reflect these new requirements.  

If hired by the Academic Division, excluding School of Medicine, School of Nursing, UVA Physicians Group, and the Health Systems Library, you will be required to provide proof of vaccination or be willing to be vaccinated by January 4, 2022. Academic employees may apply for a University-approved medical or religious exemption.

Note: Some medical and safety-sensitive positions require vaccination and are not eligible for an exemption. For more information on how vaccination requirements will apply to you, please visit the UVA New Hire Vaccination Requirements webpage.

The University of Virginia, including the UVA Health System which represents the UVA Medical Center, Schools of Medicine and Nursing, UVA Physician’s Group and the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, are fundamentally committed to the diversity of our faculty and staff. We believe diversity is excellence expressing itself through every person's perspectives and lived experiences. We are equal opportunity and affirmative action employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information.


In 1819, the University of Virginia established a new model for intellectual exchange and cross-disciplinary collaboration in higher education. Two hundred years later, as a major research institution, we continue to challenge conventions, lead with ingenuity and advance knowledge for the common good.

What began as an innovative idea has become one of the nation’s leading public research universities, with over 21,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UVA also has over 3,000 full-time faculty offering more than 400 degrees.

Each of the University’s eleven schools has its own distinctive mission, working together to garner consistently high rankings—including #2 Best Value Public College (Princeton Review, 2016), #3 Public University in the Nation (U.S. News & World Report, 2016), and #3 Best Value Among Public Colleges (Kiplinger’s, 2016).  

As we invest in and strengthen our research capabilities, UVA seeks new faculty ready to uncover new insights, rewrite old rules and collaborate on intellectual discoveries.


As an R1 institution, the University’s research centers, consortia and laboratories are on the leading edge of discovery and technology, offering collaborative spaces for students and faculty to solve global problems.

Our professors are recognized members of major national scholarly and professional organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty’s engagement in interdisciplinary research is being facilitated by new research institutes specializing in everything from big data to brain functioning, and by cluster hires across schools.


UVA is also home to a nationally renowned academic medical center and the UVA Health System, which serves a three-part mission to treat patients, conduct translational research and train medical practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines.

Established as the nation’s 10th medical school in 1825, the institution has since grown to include a 612-bed hospital and a Level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers, a Children’s Hospital, and primary and specialty clinics throughout Central Virginia.

The UVA Medical Center is consistently ranked among the nation’s best hospitals by the U.S. News & World Report magazine and has been named among the top 25 percent in seven specialties.


The vast majority of UVA students come from the top 10% of their high school class, as well as from all 50 states, over 142 countries and a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite their diversity, all UVA students share a love of learning and a drive to achieve.

One of the reasons students choose Virginia is our unique residential culture. At UVA, the community of students, faculty and staff personifies the Jeffersonian idea that living and learning are connected. The Academical Village was constructed to support a unique residential experience, with faculty living in the Pavilions, students occupying Lawn rooms and the world-famous Rotunda at its heart. The University’s residential culture continues to support this experience today—strengthened by students, faculty and staff rich in backgrounds, ideas and perspectives. Our unique culture is also paying dividends in innovation:  UVA’s faculty have generated more than 130 patents since 2010.

Perhaps most importantly, faculty come to UVA knowing that instruction is as important as research, and they pride themselves on their many teaching awards.  Our best professors look for ways to encourage, mentor and develop tomorrow’s leaders inside and outside the classroom.


Living in Charlottesville you’ll find sophisticated restaurants, world-renowned wineries and breweries, cosmopolitan arts and music, friendly urban and suburban neighborhoods and a Piedmont landscape that has lured adventurous souls for centuries.  No wonder the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research named Charlottesville the “happiest city in America” in 2014.

In addition to UVA and its health system, several major employers have facilities in Charlottesville, including State Farm, Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Department of Defense, GE and others.  Charlottesville is also becoming a center for innovative start-up businesses.  The University also actively helps spouses and partners of faculty members build their networks and pursue employment opportunities with a wide variety of area employers. 

The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, qualified individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to assist in their pursuit of employment at the University. This includes assistance in completing the online job application as well as reasonable accommodations during the interview process. Please contact the UHR Service Center: 434.982.0123 to request assistance.

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