Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity




Cover of Working Paper 502
February 7, 2019

Enhancing Young Children’s Language Acquisition through Parent-Child Book-Sharing: A Randomized Trial in Rural Kenya - Working Paper 502

Worldwide, 250 million children under five (43 percent) are not meeting their developmental potential because they lack adequate nutrition and cognitive stimulation in early childhood. Several parent support programs have shown significant benefits for children’s development, but the programs are often expensive and resource intensive. The objective of this study was to test several variants of a potentially scalable, cost-effective intervention to increase cognitive stimulation by parents and improve emergent literacy skills in children.

Cover of Working Paper 472
December 13, 2017

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goal Zero Targets: What Could We Do? - Working Paper 472

The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets for global development progress by 2030 that were agreed by the United Nations in 2015. A review of the literature on meeting "zero targets" suggests very high costs compared to available resources, but also that in many cases there remains a considerable gap between financing known technical solutions and achieving the outcomes called for in the SDGs. In some cases, we (even) lack the technical solutions required to achieve the zero targets, suggesting the need for research and development of new approaches.

September 7, 2017

Can a Public-Private Partnership Improve Liberia’s Schools?

After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools.

Mauricio Romero , Justin Sandefur and Wayne Aaron Sandholtz
June 20, 2017

“The Evidence” About “What Works” in Education: Graphs to Illustrate External Validity and Construct Validity

Currently, the bulk of the new empirical work on estimating the impact on learning of various education projects/ programmes/policies, while based on sound principles of estimating causal impacts, is far too inadequately theorised and specified to be of much immediate and direct use in formulating effective action to accelerate learning. The RISE research agenda is moving forward by: (a) embedding research into a prior diagnostic of the overall system, (b) evaluating on-going attempts at education reform at scale, (c) specifying the details of programme/project/policy design, and (d) acknowledging that policy relevant learning is itself part of the system.

April 25, 2017

Annual Report 2016

This annual report marks two milestones in 2016: CGD’s 15th anniversary and, at the end of the year, its first leadership transition, with founding president Nancy Birdsall being succeeded by Masood Ahmed.

The Center for Global Development
December 12, 2016

An Agenda for Harmful Cultural Practices and Girls' Empowerment

Harmful cultural practices and norms—even the seemingly non-violent ones that consign girls to bear the brunt of household labor—have consequences for nutrition, health, educational achievement, sexual abuse, and child marriage. Accordingly, it is critical to develop a research agenda that places girls aged 0 to 10 at the center of policy to address harmful practices. Both as an issue of gender-based violence and as an impediment to girls reaching their potential, we need greater commitments to country-level data, informed and enforced legislative action, and innovative methods to challenging and shifting socially shared definitions of girlhood.

December 2, 2016

Internationally Comparable Mathematics Scores for Fourteen African Countries - Working Paper 444

Internationally comparable test scores play a central role in both research and policy debates on education. However, the main international testing regimes, such as PISA, TIMSS, or PIRLS, include very few low-income countries. For instance, most countries in Southern and Eastern Africa have opted instead for a regional assessment known as SACMEQ. This paper exploits an overlap between the SACMEQ and TIMSS tests—in both country coverage, and questions asked—to assess the feasibility of constructing global learning metrics by equating regional and international scales. I find that learning levels in this sample of African countries are consistently (a) low in absolute terms; (b) significantly lower than predicted by African per capita GDP levels; and (c) converging slowly, if at all, to the rest of the world during the 2000s. Creating test scores which are truly internationally comparable would be a global public good, requiring more concerted effort at the design stage.

November 28, 2016

A Global Offer for Learning (GOL): Based on Experiences with Paying for Results

Children in developing countries get lots of schooling, but they are not necessarily learning. To address this, countries need new forms of feedback, experimentation, and financing that conventional aid is ill-suited to provide. This paper reviews experiences with an unconventional aid modality—paying for results—as it could apply to learning. The paper explains how such a program could be implemented and accelerate institutional changes needed to improve student learning.

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406
May 21, 2015

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406

In rural areas of developing countries, education programs are often implemented through community teachers. While teachers are a crucial part of the education production function, observing their effort remains a challenge for the public sector. This paper tests whether a simple monitoring system, implemented via the mobile phone, can improve student learning as part of an adult education program. 

Jenny C. Aker and Christopher Ksoll
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