“EP opened doors to opportunities for high-impact, meaningful work.”

Surrounded by a family of educators – including two parents with PhDs in education who supported research and standardized testing for Canada’s largest school districts – Mark Cheng always knew education was a career path worth pursuing.

Still, he struggled to find the right way to make his mark. “When I thought about different jobs in education, I just assumed it would be teaching by default,” Mark admits. Recognizing that he didn’t have the ideal skillset to be a successful classroom teacher, Mark sought opportunities outside of the classroom.

While earning a graduate degree that combined his passion for economics and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Mark discovered Education Pioneers and his powerful next career step.

“EP opened doors to opportunities for high-impact, meaningful work," Mark says. “Normally, to get that kind of exposure you would need to work for free.” His Fellowship experience has shaped his career trajectory ever since.

Expertise 
  • Data & Analysis
  • Academics
Impact 
Mark served as a Fellow for the New York City Department of Education’s (NYCDOE) School Performance team and was charged with evaluating the city’s 1,800 schools quantitatively and publishing an annual progress report to help inform families' school choice decisions. Mark leveraged his background in data analysis to research alternative assessment measures that could paint a picture of each school’s achievement beyond test scores.
 
“Some of my proposed metrics, such as a high school readiness metric for middle schools, were used on the NYCDOE’s progress report the next year,” Mark recalls. “That was a highlight.”
 
After his Fellowship, Mark returned to the NYCDOE and continued to improve school performance measures and ultimately helped reshape the way the district defines how schools are compared to one another.
 
Today, Mark serves as the Director of Data Management at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a charter network operating 14 schools. In his role, Mark manages the collection and analysis of student-level data. He translates the results to ensure teachers, principals, and executives have a pulse on how their schools are doing – and, most importantly, how they can improve so that Democracy Prep’s 4,400 students are better served.