When Pratham used simple “report cards” to provide information about learning outcomes to villages in India, the intervention largely failed. There was no improvement in attendance of children or teachers, no improvement in learning outcomes; and parents, teachers, and village education committees did not become more engaged with the schools (Banerjee et al., 2010). However, when Pratham-trained youth volunteers offered basic reading classes outside of regular school, reading skills of children who attended improved substantially after one year. Why did information provision fail to improve learning outcomes?
CGD Policy Blogs
How USAID’s Demographic and Health Surveys Overestimate Literacy around the World—and How to Fix That
Three cheers for the DHS! However, the value of the DHS literacy data is significantly undermined by a small, easily fixable flaw in the way the survey is administered.
A commission led by the UN's special envoy for education, Gordon Brown, is calling for a doubling of global aid for education, without any clear reform agenda to raise learning levels in the world's failing school systems. That might be ok: bad schools in poor countries still seem to produce big benefits.
We need an international assessment that will pinpoint educational challenges by providing consistent information on the status of all youth, not just those who have somehow stayed in formal schooling into adolescence. Think of a universal test of nine-year-olds in basic math, reading, and problem solving skills.
Cheating scandals are all too common across both developing and developed countries. Scores on high-stakes exams can determine a child’s future through access to better education opportunities and career possibilities. This performance pressure can lead to intense studying, a market for tutoring and exam preparation, and, in the worst instances, widespread cheating that can involve students, parents, teachers and officials.
The Trump administration's signature policy proposal to control immigration more tightly has been the most contentious issue of the early days of this presidency. In this podcast we seek to add some facts to the debate.
Several recent articles about President Trump’s executive order on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries have looked at how it affects thousands of international students all across the US. At stake here is not only their ability to benefit from a US education, but also how the US benefits from having students from those countries at American institutions, in terms of revenue, future productivity, and jobs. My own research, using both administrative and survey data, shows that the costs of this ban to the US will include costs to public universities and lost global talent from abroad. The US is the largest "exporter" of higher education services, and the ban could hit universities with a revenue loss of around $200 million a year, with larger impacts on the local economies around campuses.
The "arbiter of value" is a key concept in Mark Moore’s RISE working paper: "Creating Efficient, Effective and Just Educational Systems through Multi-Sector Strategies of Reform." This concept, which he brings to the education sector after decades of experience in a variety of public sector organizations (his 1994 book Creating Public Value is a classic in the field), helps understand the industrial organization of basic schooling and why schooling is mostly publicly managed around the world—and even why a failed political coup affects who can teach school in Turkey.
Is big money really necessary, or even sufficient, to improving learning outcomes for children in the developing world? CGD’s background research submitted to the Commission has convinced us that the key to faster progress is not incremental money; it is focused action in two critical areas. The first necessary, unavoidable step is for political leaders, education officials, and parents in low-income countries to recognize the depth of the problem (children’s lives and public money wasted) in their country, and have the information to design and implement local solutions. The second is to shift education funding to paying for results, rather than inputs and plans.