This Week in International Education

Below are a few education and development pieces I found interesting this week.

  1. This CGD note by Lant Prichett discusses the all too common practice of using metrics which are not directly related to student learning/ability to assess progress in basic education. Prichett cites the example of data collected during the rollout of a large-scale government-led education initiative in India, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA). Pritchett writes, “As part of this scheme an EMIS (Education Management Information System) program called DISE (District Information System for Education) was launched. This was called a “report card” on schools and contains, for each district of India (aggregated up to state level) a huge “dashboard” of data about schooling. In the current State Report Cards 2016-2017 there are, by my count, 977 distinct numbers reported. Not one of those numbers is any direct measure of student learning (and interestingly, a previously included measure of learning, pass percentages, was dropped from the “report card”).”
  2. World Bank researcher David Evans highlights the impressive body of education research co-authored by RTI International’s Director of Education for Africa, Ben Piper. Evans notes that Piper and his co-authors do not let the perfect (clean causal identification) serve as the enemy of the good (answering questions that policymakers care about in a reasonable timeframe)
  3. At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen summarizes a new paper by economist Juan Sebastian Munoz which suggests that upwards of 50% of the gender gap in math achievement in Colombia is driven by lower-achieving males dropping out of school. It turns out the opportunity cost of staying in school is higher for this group.
  4. Uganda is reforming its school inspection program to focus more on student learning, teaching, and teacher attendance. The government worked with DFID and Ark Education Partnerships group to pilot the new approach. (Via Lee Crawfurd). Lee Crawfurd highlighted the importance of school inspections as a mechanism for improving accountability in this blog post.