eSpark Learning

Senior Data Scientist

Job description


eSpark Learning puts fun and effective learning experiences in the hands of more than a million K-5 students around the USA, and can be found in 1-in-4 schools. After back to back years of 40+% revenue growth, we are looking to apply this success to our engineering organization and double our size in the next year so that we can further accelerate the growth of the business. In light of this, we are excited for senior data scientists to join the team who can have profound impact on the success of the company (as both contributors and leaders), and more fully realize their own potential by taking on responsibilities that align with their interests and passions.

The Role

As a Senior Data Scientist, you’ll join our engineering organization, reporting to the Director of Engineering, and help develop the practice and growth of data science across the company, in turn making the lives of teachers, students, principals, and other eSparkers better through your efforts. You’ll get your hands dirty with data to surface insights from our product, while also having the opportunity to help build out our data science function from the beginning, helping us define how we’ll conduct experiments, analyses, and other forms of quantitative research for years to come. We welcome candidates at the senior level or above, and will adapt title accordingly with experience.

There are three tenets all members of the team are expected to hold and embody:

  • We carry a growth mindset and drive our own development.
  • We believe that we do our best work when collaborating closely with others.
  • We care more deeply about the problems we’re solving than how they’re solved.

We believe that excitement to learn, a readiness to work together collaboratively, and good scientific and technical fundamentals are more important to success at eSpark than past experience with specific technologies or methodologies — we are always ready to pair and to train new staff on the methods we use. The applications our students and teachers use are built with Elm and Typescript on the frontend and Ruby on Rails on the backend (all covered by tests), running on top of Docker and with data stored in MySQL and Redshift. In contrast, our data science technology is nascent, and actively being defined by the growing data functions at eSpark, including you.


  • Use all of our data to generate insights across our chain-link of three stakeholders:
    • For students: What behaviors are driving student learning? Why are certain learning resources more effective than others? What learning activities engage kids the most? The least? Are we serving all communities equitably?
    • For teachers: What makes a teacher try eSpark with her class? What makes her stick around? How do eSpark usage and referrals spread within a school?
    • For administrators: Which usage patterns in the classroom are predictive of a trial converting to a paid partnership? Do certain school attributes predict sales conversions?
  • Write software as needed to bridge the gap between the data we have and the data you need
  • Define and configure the tech stack for performant and reproducible analyses
  • Design and help build our experimentation platform
  • Support business goals by helping teachers find eSpark, sign up to use it in their classrooms, and advocate partnership to their administrators
  • Lead the experimental design around product and feature roll-outs
  • Participate in design and ideation around product and feature opportunities, using data to inform these decisions
  • Level up eSpark’s data science capabilities and knowledge across product, marketing, sales, and customer experience
  • Drive our understanding of the efficacy, equity, and fairness of our learning product for students of all backgrounds and circumstances
  • Participate in external research communities, and attend/publish work in academic and industry conferences like FaccT, COMPASS, WSDM, CIKM, KDD, AERA, NeurIPS, AIED, etc.

Benefits and Policies. In addition to a competitive salary and stock options, eSpark offers full healthcare coverage (including vision, dental, and mental health benefits), generous vacation and parental leave policies. We are a fully-distributed company (circa March 2020) and provide benefits around outfitting your home-office arrangement, including your choice of technical equipment. We believe in work-life balance and respect nights and weekends.

The Interviews

The eSpark engineering team’s approach to interviewing is built on transparency, as we believe that everyone has a better, more productive experience when expectations are clear. For this role, we are looking for candidates who meet three specific criteria:

  • Self-sufficient scientist – You can design and implement analytic and experimental methods to answer important business questions independently, while leveraging the team for support.
  • Competent software engineer – You can write the code you need to gather and analyze the data for scientific work and develop and implement towards a vision for how this work can be done in a repeatable, reliable way into the future.
  • Capable strategic partner – You are quick to comprehend business and product context, allowing you to contribute to what we’re doing and why, with the ability to recognize and fill in the gaps as needed.

To learn about these three areas, and you in a general sense, we conduct three one-hour interviews with various teammates from eSpark, from engineering and beyond. We also ask for three references, to complete a full picture of you as a candidate. Written feedback or evaluations are also acceptable substitutes. We also recognize that not everyone has enjoyed a complete history of healthy working environments, and we are keen to work with you to identify appropriate individuals who can speak to your strengths and areas for growth.

For more context on our interview process, please refer to this document on Data Science Interviews at eSpark – What to Expect.

About eSpark

Vision. Our vision is that every student, regardless of their circumstances or background, has the opportunity to set and realize an ambitious dream for themselves. Our mission is to re-imagine learning so it's student centered, enabling students to succeed in school and life.

Impact. Our work makes a significant difference in students' lives. Independent testing data from public school districts across the country consistently show that students learn more in areas of personalized study with eSpark. One researcher from MIT, who evaluated an eSpark in Boston Public Schools, wrote: “I find strong positive, significant effects of eSpark for both math and English Language Arts (ELA). So the eSpark intervention, which is just 30 minutes a day, led to almost half the effect of a full year in a high performing charter school. I view these as very impressive gains. The findings made a substantial dent into the black-white achievement gap.”

Diversity. At eSpark, we believe all people—adults and students alike—deserve respect for who they are. We work hard to make eSpark an environment in which everyone can thrive and succeed, supporting employees as individuals through people-centric management and as a company with our IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) employee resource group. We believe it is critical that our team reflects the student populations we aim to serve.

Pandemic. The 2020-2021 school year has been a time of unprecedented challenges for teachers, students, parents, and schools.

We believe — and have seen in last spring and fall — that eSpark’s personalized curriculum, made of fun and educational games and videos and adapted to each student; our commitment to providing teachers the tools and live support they need to support both remote and in-person learning; and our engaged team focused together on supporting educators and learners, can be a powerful help to teachers and to the students most at risk of falling behind during the pandemic.

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