Massive Impacts of Standardizing Education (News and Research 295)

Massive impacts of standardizing education | Before the COVID pandemic, more than half of children in low- and middle-income countries suffered from learning poverty: they either were out of school or failed to learn to read with comprehension by age 10. Previous research has shown that highly structured teaching guides could improve literacy, but scripted lessons are not without critics, who worry that teachers will not be able to adapt content to student’s needs. In places where teachers may be less prepared to tailor high quality lessons to their students, however, scripting may offer a way to standardize a minimum level of quality at scale. Recently researchers of a SIEF-supported evaluation in Kenya released a working paper documenting massive impacts of an attempt to codify and standardize many aspects of education, from pedagogy to management to school construction, in Bridge International Academies, a chain of for-profit schools. Taking advantage of a lottery to allocate scholarships to Bridge schools, researchers found test score gains over and above the control group equivalent to 1.48 years of learning (1.35 standard deviations) among the study’s preprimary sample and 0.89 years of learning (0.81 standard deviations) among primary school students. These gains are among the largest observed in the international education literature, and additional findings are summarized in a brief recently published alongside the working paper.

Delivering Education to the Underserved through a Public-Private Partnership Program in Pakistan | A program that recruited local entrepreneurs to open and operate new schools in 200 underserved villages in Sindh, Pakistan is evaluated. School operators received a per student subsidy to provide tuition-free primary education, and half the villages received a higher subsidy for females. The program increased enrollment by 32 percentage points and test scores by 0.63 standard deviations, with no difference across the two subsidy schemes. It is found that program schools selected inputs similar to those of a social planner who internalizes all the education benefits to society.

Beyond Short-Term Learning Gains: the Impact of Outsourcing Schools in Liberia After Three Years| Outsourcing the management of ninety-three randomly-selected government primary schools in Liberia to eight private operators led to learning gains of 0.18σ after one year, but these effects plateaued in subsequent years (reaching 0.2σ after three years). Beyond learning gains, the program reduced corporal punishment (by 4.6 percentage points from a base of 51%), but increased dropout (by 3.3 percentage points from a base of 15%) and failed to reduce sexual abuse. Despite facing similar contracts and settings, some providers produced uniformly positive results, while others presented trade-offs between learning gains, access to education, child safety, and financial sustainability.

No learning loss in Sweden during the pandemic | Evidence from primary school reading assessments.



Education Impacts of the Covid-19 School Closures | Mitigating the Learning Losses Caused by the COVID-19 School Closures | Conference jointly organized by World Bank and IDEA at CERGE-EI | 21 June 2022, 13:00 – 18:00 (Central European Summer Time – UTC +2) | Prague, CERGE-EI (The Schebek Palace, Politických vězňů 7, Prague 1) | Format: Hybrid: online and in-person | Register Now | The objective of this conference is to document the size and determinants of the learning loss brought about by school closures, identify policy options to reverse these losses, and setting the bases of a more resilient education system. The Conference is divided into three parts: (1) An overview of the pre-pandemic global learning crisis and the mechanisms through which this was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) The elements of a “Learning Recovery Plan” based on recent evidence of interventions that have proven to be effective to improve learning, particularly among disadvantaged students; and (3) Lessons that can be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic in the road towards the construction of a more resilient, efficient, and equitable education system. The Conference will be concluded by a panel summarizing a call to action. Confirmed speakers: Štěpán Jurajda (Deputy Minister for Science, Research and Innovation of the Czech Republic), Daniel Münich (IDEA at CERGE-EI), Amanda Spielman (Ofsted, UK), Nuno Crato (University of Lisbon), Gunda Tire (Education and Youth Board of Estonia), Maciej Jakubowski (University of Warsaw), Lenora Chu (Christian Science Monitor), Vaclav Korbel (IDEA at CERGE-EI). Thierry Rocher (Ministère de l’éducation nationale and Université Paris X Nanterre), Hjalte Meilvang (Ministry of Education, Denmark); Alina Sava, Rafael de Hoyos, Polina Zavalina, Tigran Shmis, Harry Patrinos (World Bank).