2017 Summer Internship Program in Research for Graduate Students


Interns in this eight-week program participate in research under the guidance of an ETS mentor. Each intern is required to give a brief presentation about the project at the conclusion of the internship. The internship is carried out in the ETS offices in Princeton, N.J., in one of the following research areas:

Research Area 1: Raise U.S. Literacy Levels

In 2013, a study by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute of Literacy showed that at least 32 million adults in the United States are illiterate. Whereas illiteracy is related to numerous negative life outcomes, including poverty, low socioeconomic status, and poor health, literacy is associated with positive outcomes, most notably higher levels of education and higher socioeconomic status. Beyond traditional based literacy skills, in an increasingly technological society, digital literacy is critical for the prosperity of individuals and the nation. Solutions to elevate the U.S. literacy rate will require assessment and learning tools that both identify and develop individuals' foundational literacy skills, as well as more complex literacy practices required for higher levels of educational and workplace success.

A sample project under this research area is examining innovative technology, a "virtual reading partner," in support of the development of key literacy skills. Specifically, this project aims to help low-proficiency readers improve their reading skill through sustained reading, which, in turn, will be achieved through enhanced engagement and interaction with the "virtual reading partner."

Research Area 2: Raise Global English-Language Proficiency

Limited proficiency in the English language, being the de facto lingua franca for global business and academic conversation, limits the educational and employment opportunities for a large segment of the population. While evidence-based measures of English-language proficiency are available, some test score users note inconsistencies between individuals' test scores and their actual language skills when communicating in educational and workplace settings. Also, current assessments are used primarily for summative purposes — to identify proficiency levels — providing little or no formative information for learners or educators to help further develop English-language skills.

A sample project under this research area is providing the foundation for a comprehensive set of language-proficiency levels and descriptors (the basis for a language learning progression). This foundation is intended to facilitate educators' ability to target language instruction and to provide English-language learners with more meaningful information about their skill development.

Research Area 3: Modeling and Analyzing Examinee Response Processes

This research area focuses on modeling and analyzing examinee response process data captured in digitally based assessment environments for investigating item and task features, examinee behavior related to target assessment purposes and for validating score meaning. Projects may involve modeling and analyzing of response processes in game- and simulation-based assessments, for examining accessibility features of assessment tasks, for comparing assessments for different populations. 

Research Area 4: Statistical and Psychometric Foundations

This area focuses on the theoretically based development or enhancement of statistical and psychometric methods for use in the analysis of item and test data. For example, projects may involve the development of rigorous procedures for item response modeling and item analysis and the development of methods for incorporating measurement error in the analyses of educational data.

Research Area 5: Group-Scored Assessment

This area comprises the statistical and psychometric analyses needed to support group-scored assessments such as NAEP and PISA. Research topics may include modeling of item responses, analysis of multistage tests, and issues of complex sampling, weighting, and variance estimation.

Research Area 6: Psychometric Bases for Noncognitive Assessments and the WorkFORCE® Assessments

This area is focused on the psychometric underpinnings of noncognitive assessment in general and the WorkFORCE® Assessment for Job Fit in particular. Examples of topics of interest are: modeling of response data, alternatives for scoring forced-choice responses, feasibility and appropriateness of an assessment with different languages/cultures, appropriate statistical tools for analyzing this type of data, and various test design issues including fakeability, fixed vs. variable blueprint, test length, and assembly specifications.

Research Area 7: Applied Psychometrics

This area is focused on improvements to operational psychometric methods and procedures related to equating and scaling, item and test analyses, measurement error and reliability, quality assurance, and scoring and scaling of complex item types.


  • The application deadline is February 1, 2017.


  • Applicants will be notified of selection decisions by April 1, 2017.


  • Eight weeks: June 5, 2017–July 28, 2017


  • $6,000 salary
  • Transportation allowance for relocating to and from the Princeton area
  • Housing will be provided for interns commuting more than 50 miles


  • Current full-time enrollment in a relevant doctoral program
  • Completion of at least two years of coursework toward the Ph.D. or Ed.D. prior to the program start date


The main criteria for selection will be scholarship and the match of applicant interests and experience with the research projects.

ETS affirmative action goals will be considered. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application Procedures

Complete the electronic application form. On the application form:

  • Choose up to two research areas in which you are interested and provide written statements about your interest in the particular area(s) of research.
  • Attach a copy of your curriculum vitae (preferably as a PDF).
  • Attach a copy of your graduate transcripts (unofficial copies are acceptable).
  • Download the recommendation form and share it with your recommenders. Recommendations should come from your academic advisor and/or major professors who are familiar with your work. ETS will only accept two recommendation forms. Recommendations should be sent electronically to internfellowships@ets.org and must be received by February 1, 2017. If you would like to download the recommendation form for sending to your recommenders before submitting your application, the option to save your application information for later is available.

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