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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Two girls do homework outside a school in Bamako, Mali. Photo from Adobe Stock.

For Better Learning, Africa Needs Better Data

Which African country is making the most progress in teaching kids to read by the time they reach third grade? Which language-of-instruction policies are most effective in early literacy teaching? Which country is getting the most children to complete primary school equipped with basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills? The answers? We don’t know because there is no way to know. Comparable data on learning outcomes over the past 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa simply does not exist. 

What should an S-curve for content mastered in grade 4 look like?

Are We Wrong About the Right Way to Organize Schooling?

The popular notion about how schooling works—and, one could argue, the notion upon which the whole age-grade structure of schooling depends—is that one moves through a series of concepts that build on one another and masters them at the “grade appropriate” level. 

Graph showing that there is shockingly little progress on answering multiple choice questions about simple arithmetic operations as students move through schooling.

The Learning Crisis and How to Fix it: Reflections from the 2018 RISE Conference

Imagine an economically thriving and democratic middle-income country that has achieved near universal primary school enrollment, tripled percentage of total government expenditure on education since 2000 (in real terms), and roughly doubled teacher salaries. You would think all is well, right? But new measures of learning progress show low absolute and marginal learning as students are promoted from grade to grade.

Vietnam’s Exceptional Learning Success: Can We Do That Too?

In the last international PISA assessment for math and science, Vietnam outperformed many developed countries, including the UK and the US. Yet Vietnam only has a small fraction of the GDP of these countries. Should other countries with similar income levels, such as Indonesia, be asking themselves: “Why not me?”

Bad Assessments Are Bad for Learning

High-stakes national assessments in developing countries tend to have important consequences for test takers. These assessments can determine a child’s future opportunities by deciding whether a child progresses to a higher grade or achieves a certain certification to enter the workforce. Because these assessments are important for both children and teachers, they have a strong influence on what actually happens inside the classroom, and as a result, on the learning outcomes of children.

Does Management Matter for Learning Outcomes?

Much has been written about the difference in education outcomes between public and public-private partnership (PPP) schools. According to a review by Ark, so far there is insufficient or modest evidence linking PPPs—including contract schools, subsidies, and vouchers—with better learning outcomes (as distinct from evidence about public versus private [non-PPP] schools).

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