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Mexico

Age bias in testing is real, and we must do something about it

Pablo Peña's picture
 Maria Fleischmann / World Bank
When test scores are used to make important decisions, age-related differences scores may have life-changing consequences. (Photo: Maria Fleischmann / World Bank)


The inefficiency and inequity caused by age differences in testing is not news. On the contrary, it is a well-documented fact. The proposed solution to this problem is to age-adjust test scores. But the truth is, we are nowhere near to implementing such a solution.

Education and economic development: Five reforms that have worked

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Also available in: Français
Education systems are simply not performing as needed; not as economies demand, and not as parents desire. Yet it’s important to celebrate and recognize the success of countries that have made significant advances. (Photo: Sofie Tesson / Taimani Films / World Bank)

Every sector is reforming to meet the changing demands of the global economy. Except one. Education remains a predominantly public service.  This is fine except that it means that this is also mainly publicly-provided, publicly-financed, and regulated. No public service agency is expected to do as much as we expect of education. How are education systems around the world faring?

Éducation et développement économique : retour sur cinq réformes efficaces

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Also available in: English
Les systèmes éducatifs ne sont tout bonnement pas à la hauteur des besoins économiques ni des attentes des parents. D’où l’importance de célébrer et prendre acte des succès importants obtenus dans certains pays[MPS1] . (Photo : Sofie Tesson / Taimani Films / Banque mondiale)

Bootcamps: Raising expectations for girls in math, science and technology

Juliana Guaqueta Ospina's picture
Also available in: Español
A Laboratoria classroom in Peru
Laboratoria, a nonprofit organization that runs six-month courses, targets girls from low-income families who face major barriers to accessing higher education. (Photo: Laboratoria)


Intensive “bootcamp” training programs that develop coding and other computer science skills and directly connect students with jobs are becoming increasingly popular. In the U.S, there are already over 90 bootcamps—and they are taking root in Latin America too, helping to close the region’s skills and gender gaps.

“Bootcamps”: aumentan las expectativas de las niñas en los campos de matemáticas, ciencia y tecnología

Juliana Guaqueta Ospina's picture
Also available in: English
A Laboratoria classroom in Peru
Laboratoria, organización sin fines de lucro que dirige cursos de seis meses para niñas de familias de bajos ingresos que enfrentan barreras para acceder a la educación superior. Foto: Laboratoria

There is no easy fix to the dropout problem

Rafael de Hoyos's picture
This page in: Espanol
Students at secondary school. Photo: © Charlotte Kesl / World Bank


When I joined the Mexican ministry of education in 2008, one of the first challenges I had was to identify effective policies to reduce dropout rates in upper secondary (grades 10, 11 and 12). Eight years, two randomized control trials, numerous workshops, and several diagnostics later, I still don’t have a precise answer. 

Can information on the economic returns to schooling motivate students to stay in school?

Rafael de Hoyos's picture
Rafael and his classmates when they were in high school in Mexico.
Photo Credit: Rafael de Hoyos / World Bank

With Ciro Avitabile

If I could plot the number of bad decisions I’ve made throughout my life against my age there would certainly be a large hump between 15 and 18. Among the many bad decisions I made during adolescence—and believe me there were many- leaving school never even crossed my mind. To stay in high school, I not only had to be present but needed to put in a minimum effort not to fail more than a certain number of subjects which would jeopardize my right to enroll the following year.

¿Puede la información sobre los retornos a la educación mejorar los aprendizajes?

Rafael de Hoyos's picture
​Photo Credit: Rafael de Hoyos / World Bank

Con la colaboración de Ciro Avitabile

Si pudiera graficar la cantidad de decisiones desacertadas que he tomado durante mi vida en función de la edad que tenía al momento de tomarlas, no cabe duda de que observaría una gran concentración de malas decisiones entre los 15 y los 18 años. Entre las numerosas decisiones desacertadas que tomé en la adolescencia —y, créanme, fueron muchas— jamás me pasó por la mente abandonar mis estudios. Para poder seguir en el bachillerato, no solo tenía que asistir a clases, sino que debía poner un esfuerzo mínimo para no reprobar más de una cierta cantidad de materias y arriesgar mi derecho a matricularme el año siguiente.

Higher education: returns are high but we need to fund it better

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
University students at a laboratory.

Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank


This week I was invited to speak at The Economist’s Higher Education Forum in New York to share my thoughts on how higher education can be expanded. I believe that we need a fair and sustainable cost-recovery model at the university level using future earnings to finance current education.

Over the past two decades, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of university students and graduates worldwide, which should have led to decrease in the rate of return to investment to higher education – if supply outpaced demand, of course.  While there has been some decrease in overall rates of return, investment in education is still a highly profitable investment.  Global demand for high levels skills such as working with new information and problem-solving has kept the returns to schooling high in even the poorest countries of the world. In fact, the returns to higher education are higher in lower-income countries – except in the Middle East and North Africa due to rigid labor market regulations.

Can providing information on school performance lead to improvement?

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Also available in: Español | العربية

In high-income countries, learning outcomes have improved as a result of an intervention that increases transparency and accountability through the use of test scores.  In a previous blog, I mentioned examples of ‘high-stakes testing’ accountability systems, such as No Child Left Behind.  A high-stakes test has important consequences for the test taker, school, or school authorities. It carried important benefits if the test is passed, such as a diploma, extra resources to the school, or a positive citation. Some of these interventions also follow the “naming and shaming” of school leaders, which is done in England.

There is also evidence that suggests that even just providing information on test scores will lead to improvement.  This is the case in school choice systems such as in the Netherlands.

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