Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

May 22, 2014

Learning without Teachers? A Randomized Experiment of a Mobile Phone-Based Adult Education Program in Los Angeles - Working Paper 368

Over 755 million adults worldwide are unable to read and write in any language. Yet the widespread introduction of information and communication technology offers new opportunities to provide standardized distance education to underserved illiterate populations in both developed and developing countries.

Christopher Ksoll , Jenny Aker , Danielle Miller , Karla C. Perez-Mendoza and Susan L. Smalley
December 17, 2013

Primary Schooling, Student Learning, and School Quality in Rural Bangladesh - Working Paper 349

This present paper, by Mohammad Niaz Asadullah and Nazmul Chaudhury therefore makes an important contribution to the literature in a key area of CGD concern. Using a representative sample of 2400 households producing data on 3323 children aged 10 to 17 they assess ability to answer simple arithmetic question (either oral or written).

Mohammad Niaz Asadullah and Nazmul Chaudhury
Cover of The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain't Learning
September 24, 2013

The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning

With abundant data, sound analysis, and first-hand experience, Lant Pritchett shows that the way to turn underperforming schools around is to allow functional systems to evolve locally out of an environment pressured for success. Schools systems need to be open to variety and experimentation, locally operated, and flexibly financed. The only main cost is ceding control; the reward would be the rebirth of education suited for today’s world.

May 6, 2013

Schooling Is Not Education! Using Assessment to Change the Politics of Non-Learning

Most of the world’s children now live in countries on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary completion by 2015. Countries have indeed made great progress getting kids in school, but behind that progress is a problem: many children are hardly learning anything in school. Some measures of learning are just dismal. In India, for example, only about one-third of children in grade 5 can perform long division. Nearly one-half cannot read a grade 2 text, and one in five cannot follow a grade 1 text.

What is to be done? Broadly speaking, schools, governments, and donors need to focus more on actual learning goals, not just filling seats. This report of the CGD Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes shows how to make some headway in that direction. Governments need to develop comparable, public learning assessments. Civil society should engage at the grassroots to demand accountability. Donors can play a secondary role by pegging funding to results or experimenting with different strategies. And the UN and other multilaterals should set global standards against which national efforts can be measured. One option is to establish a global learning goal as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

The Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes
March 27, 2013

Scaling Up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education - Working Paper 321

We investigate heterogeneity across beneficiaries and implementers—in a randomized trial of contract teachers in Kenyan schools. The data show a stark contrast in success between the government and NGO arm that can be traced back to implementation constraints and political economy forces put in motion as the program went to scale.

Tessa Bold , Mwangi Kimenyi , Germano Mwabu , Alice Ng'ang'a and Justin Sandefur
April 18, 2012

The Negative Consequences of Overambitious Curricula in Developing Countries - Working Paper 293

Lant Pritchett and Amanda Beatty argue that many education systems are attempting to push children through curricular material faster than their teachers can teach it and their students can learn it. Students fall behind and eventually stop learning. The authors provide a formal model of this phenomenon and provide empirical evidence on its implications.

February 27, 2011

Solow’s Return: Inventions, Ideas, and the Quality of Life

In his latest essay, Charles Kenny seeks to revive Solow's model of exogenous growth; growth driven by the global diffusion of new technologies and ideas. He suggests that when it comes to quality of life improvements, institutions may be less important than exogenous factors, like new vaccines, oral re-hydration therapies, or improvements in hygiene and education practices.

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