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Can Public Accountability Motivate Teachers to Perform at their Best? The Conversation Heats Up

Emiliana Vegas's picture

In recent weeks, several articles have appeared in the main U.S. newspapers– including the Washington Post and the New York Times – discussing the potential benefits and pitfalls of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to publish performance data on individual teachers.  Together with an economist, LA Times’ reporters used long-existing data on student test scores by teacher over time, to estimate individual teachers’ “value-added”, that is, the change in a student’s test score in the year that they had a specific teacher, attributing this change to the teacher’s effectiveness. They found enormous variation in the change in scores of students of particular teachers, and published the names of some teachers – both the “best” and “worst”.  Further, the paper announced that it will soon release the approximate rankings of all individual teachers in LA.


Will public accountability of individual teacher performance contribute to improve education quality in Los Angeles? Is this something that other education systems around the world struggling with finding options to raise teaching quality and student learning outcomes consider?

Welcome to ‘Let’s Talk Development’

Justin Yifu Lin's picture

As the world pulls out of an unprecedented financial crisis and given the wrap up just last week of the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York, the work of the development community is far from over. In this context, the need for concerted, pragmatic research is more urgent than ever. Among the questions we need to ask is why many past efforts to get low-income countries on a path to sustainable growth have fallen short. Also, as we search for solutions, we need to adapt to the emergence of a multi-polar growth world and seek lessons from developing countries.  

With this in mind, it’s my pleasure to introduce this new blog aimed at sharing ideas and sparking innovation.

  Field visit to Nigeria
We at the Development Economics Department of the World Bank know that openness is what will keep us relevant and honest – the world is changing and it’s vital to challenge accepted wisdom. It’s essential to air the views of outside experts, even when they are highly critical.

Lively debate via this blog could potentially lead to break through solutions for development, or, at the very least, steer research and analysis in new directions.

Dissemination vs Public Engagement; in Other Words, Are You Serious?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

'Ha, I almost forgot; we need a dissemination strategy for the report. Get somebody to sort that out. Meeting adjourned.'

You guessed right: the statement above usually occurs at the end of a long meeting discussing 'substance'; then somebody realizes that if the department/organization has spent all this money on this piece of research, it might be a good idea to get somebody to 'disseminate' it.

Usually, they have not given the matter serious thought. They have not answered basic questions.

Research Is Not An End In Itself

Naniette Coleman's picture

In the world of development, research is not enough; a free and protected media is not enough; policy is not enough; but together, the combination can be unstoppable, when communicated well. Communication is the key. Disparate pieces floating in a vacuum cannot garner the type of result that is possible when they are combined and communicated as a whole, properly. 

 

Transparency in All Things: Even Research

Susan Moeller's picture

Wordtree of Al Jazeera's coverage graphically demonstrates how common a topic "fraud" was in framing the Afghan election.Transparency remains the sine qua non of the international development sector.  We preach its value to others; we see open records laws, for example, as key indicators of good governance.  But what we rarely discuss in the context of access to information, is the value not just of the data itself, but of transparency about how the data is analyzed.

Lots of studies come across each of our desks everyday.  Some come directly from the folks conducting the studies; the Pew Research Center, for example, sends me a weekly email of their work.  Some studies we learn about via the media: a news outlet itself or a pollster has completed a survey, and a news story summarizes the major takeaways.  And some studies come to us another step removed:  we pick up a book by Malcolm Gladwell or Ori Brafman, for example, and the author précis a study to argue his own insights.  

Mission Diary – Tour of Rural Road Innovations in Vietnam

The Northern mountainous Vietnamese town of Lao Cai on the Chinese border is asleep at 4:45 in the morning, except for a large crowd gathering at the railway station. I am arriving, with a small World Bank rural transport mission, on the overnight sleeper train from Hanoi. It is the most effective way of travel to Lao Cai.

Open Data in French, Spanish, and Arabic Levels Research Playing Field, Empowers NGOs

Edith Wilson's picture

The World Bank’s data will now be available in French, Spanish and Arabic! This is huge.  It is going to empower local researchers, academics, grad students and civil society in a whole new way.  It changes the game for measuring government performance and pushing for openness. 

Dr. Abdelkhalek Touhami, an open data advocate in Morocco and researcher, was interviewed for his reactions to the World Bank’s announcement.

Here are the main points he made (summarized by me):

Interactive climate change map shows what a warmer world could look like

James I Davison's picture

As next month’s climate change conference in Copenhagen draws closer, we are undoubtedly going to see the amount of online discourse on the topic continue to increase. The latest example comes from the British government, which last week released an interactive map showing the possible impact of a global temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit). An article in the Guardian says the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre produced the map based on a recent study that indicates, "such a 4C rise could come as soon as 2060 without urgent and serious action to reduce emissions." The newspaper also quotes the government’s chief scientist as saying that such a temperature shift would be “disastrous.”

Indeed, after exploring the map for just a few minutes, you see how devastating the consequences of a warmer planet might be. By zooming in and clicking and dragging with your mouse, you can navigate the map to see what could happen to different parts of the globe. Be sure to click on some of the plus signs, which give you a brief overview of an issue and the option to click to learn more and view sources of the research. The map, its creators say, displays the latest in peer-reviewed climate change research.

Looking around East Asia, you’ll see that some of the impacts listed include decrease in rice yield, extreme temperatures in population centers of eastern China, and flooding caused by rising sea levels.
 

Click on the map to interact. View full screen map here.


(Hat tip: From Poverty to Power blog.)

Wanted: researchers for first-rate forest study camp in Indonesia

Tony Whitten's picture

In my earlier blog posts and video on my return visit to Siberut, I mentioned that we had visited the Pungut Research Camp of the German Primate Centre and Institut Pertanian Bogor in the far north of the island.

The 4000 ha forested study area is leased from the logging company within whose concession it lies and is used under an agreement with the clan which claims it and in cooperation with the community of the local village, Politcioman. This first-rate site has been operating for several years and can support national and international researchers. It took some while to iron out some problems but these have now been sorted.

Tracking ICT use in education across Africa

Michael Trucano's picture

watching you watching him - photo courtesy of the World BankThe announcement from the World Bank earlier this week about a new $215 Million Central Africa Backbone Program that will bring low cost, high speed Internet to the region is the latest in a series of good news about improving connectivity across the continent, and between Africa and the rest of the world.   Kenya is just one of many East African countries which can expect a decrease in costs and improvement in quality in the not too distant future as a result of the recent landing of the Seacom and TEAMS cables, and two projects which the World Bank supports, the Regional Connectivity Infrastructure Project (RCIP) and (through the IFC), the EASSy cable.

What does, or might, all of this improved connectivity mean for students and teachers in Africa? How can we keep track of all of the related changes happening throughout the continent?


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