(News and Research 255)

University selectivity and returns premium: evidence from Kazakhstan | More selective universities are presumably better in quality and expected to provide better labour market outcomes for their graduates – returns premia. However, various empirical applications have found that part of it should be attributed to selectivity. Using the data on recent higher education graduates’ entry salaries with a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, this study reveals no apparent difference in the returns one gains by attending more selective and relatively better-funded national universities as opposed to other public HEIs in Kazakhstan, at least during the first year in employment, which may potentially call for a reconsideration of the associated policies.

Closing England’s Maths Attainment Gap through One-to-One Tutoring – Global Solutions | In the aftermath of COVID-related school closures in the UK, students lost two months of learning, but the loss among the 1.7 million disadvantaged students has been much larger at seven months. This disadvantaged gap is almost entirely driven by maths attainment. One-to-one tutoring is proven to be effective at helping students catch up, but private tutoring is most likely to be taken up by children from affluent households, further widening the disadvantaged gap in learning. This report discusses the feasibility of an innovative tutoring delivery model that uses the global graduate market to deliver tutoring at a scale that can solve this problem and a price that schools can afford. While the report discusses the overall opportunity that the emerging market economies of South- and South-East Asia provide, it also presents the Third Space Learning model in Sri Lanka as a case study to investigate the practicalities of the global online tutoring model.

COVID, distance learning caused major educational harm |Half of kids left school without necessary skills  | The COVID-19 pandemic and the related need for children to do a significant amount of their timetable via distance learning has had a major impact on Italian pupils’ education. The damage was especially severe in Italy’s high schools, with close to half of the nation’s youngsters leaving school this year without the necessary skills. The 2021 report on the INVALSI tests, which are not used to grade pupils but to evaluate how schools and the system itself is performing, said 44% of high-school leavers did not have an adequate level in Italian and 51% were not up to scratch in mathematics, in both cases an increase of nine percentage points with respect to before the pandemic in 2019.

Merit Pay for Schoolteachers in Italy, 2015–2016: A New Regime of Education Accountability? | In 2015, a new performance-related pay scheme was introduced for schoolteachers in Italy as part of education accountability policies aimed at improving their performance. Beginning in that year, all Italian state school principals were offered the opportunity to distribute wage bonuses to deserving teachers. During the first year of implementation, 82 percent of the schools appointed ad hoc internal committees and distributed the bonuses, on average to one teacher out of three. A large majority of schools distributed the funds internally, choosing their own criteria for defining what merit was and how much it should be prized. Results suggest that merit pay was mostly uncorrelated to students’ achievements, although more than one round of application would be required for more rigorous tests. However, the article argues that the 2015 reform aligned the Italian system of evaluation and assessment with other international accountability policies.

Why Is Growth in Developing Countries So Hard to Measure? | Noam Angrist, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg and Dean Jolliffe in the Journal of Economic Perspectives | Occasional widely publicized controversies have led to the perception that growth statistics from developing countries are not to be trusted. Based on the comparison of several data sources and analysis of novel IMF audit data, we find no support for the view that growth is on average measured less accurately or manipulated more in developing than in developed countries. While developing countries face many challenges in measuring growth, so do higher-income countries, especially those with complex and sometimes rapidly changing economic structures. However, we find consistently higher dispersion of growth estimates from developing countries, lending support to the view that classical measurement error is more problematic in poorer countries and that a few outliers may have had a disproportionate effect on (mis)measurement perceptions. We identify several measurement challenges that are specific to poorer countries, namely limited statistical capacity, the use of outdated data and methods, the large share of the agricultural sector, the informal economy, and limited price data. We show that growth measurement based on the System of National Accounts (SNA) can be improved if supplemented with information from other data sources (for example, satellite-based data on vegetation yields) that address some of the limitations of SNA.

Remote Learning: Evidence from Nepal during COVID-19  | Karthika Radhakrishnan, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Uttam Sharma, Claire Cullen, Colin Crossley, Thato Letsomo, Noam Angrist | The results above reveal a few important takeaways. Many caregivers in the household are engaged in mobile education, including mothers (35.4%), fathers (20.0%), and siblings (30.5%). Engagement in numeracy increases overall because of the intervention. Whereas in the control group only 24% of households say they always engaged in numeracy activities in each week, this increases to 49%-55% for those who receive phone calls from teachers and NGO facilitators.

Learning Recovery after COVID-19 In Europe and Central Asia: Policy and Practice

The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World

HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes) |Angrist, N., S. Djankov, P.K. Goldberg and H.A. Patrinos. 2021. Measuring Human Capital using Global Learning DataNature 592: 403-408 | Summary in VoxEU | Data

Learning Loss During COVID-19: An Early Systematic Review