Learning at Scale—A Call for Successful, Large-Scale Numeracy and Government-led Programs

January 11, 2021

In 2019, we identified eight of the most successful early grade reading interventions working at scale in low- and lower-middle-income countries for inclusion in the Learning at Scale study. This study is designed to help us better understand how successful large-scale education programs work and how they overcome the normal challenges of effective implementation at large scale. We were able to collect data in several countries prior to the COVID-19 school closures in early 2020, and we look forward to launching our interim report in early 2021 with initial insights into our findings to date.

While that work is underway, RTI International and CGD are excited to announce the expansion of the Learning at Scale study in an effort to respond to two clear needs in the sector: a better understanding of the driving forces behind successful, large-scale numeracy programs, and insight into the factors that enable government-run programs to succeed at scale. As with the first phase, we will examine how these programs have succeeded in improving learning outcomes, while identifying the key ingredients underpinning their success. We plan to use these findings to develop a guide and user-friendly tools for understanding essential elements of effective large-scale programs.

To achieve this goal, we need your help. The Learning at Scale research team is seeking current programs that have demonstrated significant impact on learning outcomes and are operating at scale. For this phase of the study, we are looking for two types of programs: 1) programs with demonstrated effectiveness on numeracy outcomes at scale; or 2) programs that are fully implemented by government bodies (not implementing partner led or directed programs) with demonstrated effectiveness in either literacy or numeracy at scale.

Once the new programs are selected, we will investigate the teaching methods and classroom processes that made these programs work. We will also investigate aspects of the education system—such as teacher support, district management, or national policies—that led to effective classroom teaching that dramatically improves outcomes.

We plan to collect information from up to six new programs, describe in detail how effective programs work, disseminate our findings back to the community, and encourage use of the evidence for decision making on how best to rapidly improve learning outcomes at scale.

How you can help

Please help us identify candidate programs to be part of this new phase of the Learning at Scale study. We are seeking two types of programs for this work, as follows:

  Numeracy Programs Government-led Programs
Unique Criteria
  • Improved classroom teachers’ effectiveness in numeracy instruction, among other subjects
  • Can be led by government or implementing partners
  • Improved classroom teachers’ effectiveness in literacy or numeracy instruction, among other subjects
  • Implementation is led directly by government organizations
Combined Criteria
  • Implemented in the public sector, private sector, or civil society in low- and middle-income countries
  • Active through at least 2020
  • Has local demand
  • Operates in at least two administrative subdivisions
  • Has evidence of causal impact at scale OR evidence of causal impact of a pilot study that has been effectively scaled

We will need access to:

  • Program schools for classroom visits
  • Key personnel and stakeholders for interviews and observations
  • Existing reports for program details
  • Evaluation data for analyzing and comparing impact
  • Raw cost data for cost-effectiveness analyses

Please contact us at [email protected] or comment below if you know of programs that may meet these criteria. Also, please share this call for programs broadly and encourage others to be in touch. Your input will help to ensure that the included programs represent the broadest possible range of successful interventions around the globe. We welcome your support and feedback in order to build a base of evidence on what works at scale to improve learning outcomes.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.