Syndicate content

Education

Are good school principals born or can they be made?

David Evans's picture

Good principals can make a big difference
“It is widely believed that a good principal is the key to a successful school.” So say Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin in their study of school principals on learning productivity. But how do you measure this? Using a database from Texas in the United States, they employ a value-added approach analogous to that used to measure performance among teachers. They control for basic information on student backgrounds (gender, ethnicity, and an indicator of poverty) as well as student test scores from the previous year. Then they ask, What happens to student learning when a school changes principals? They find that increasing principal quality by one standard deviation increases student learning by 0.11 standard deviations. Even after additional adjustments, their most conservative estimates show that “a 1-standard-deviation increase in principal quality translates into roughly 0.05 standard deviations in average student achievement gains, or nearly two months of additional learning.”

Notably, while improving teacher effectiveness affects the average performance of all of the students in his class, improving principal effectiveness affects average performance of the entire school, so the potential gains are high.

Building Grit in the Classroom and Measuring Changes in it

David McKenzie's picture

About a year ago I reviewed Angela Duckworth’s book on grit. At the time I noted that there were compelling ideas, but that two big issues were that her self-assessed 10-item Grit scale could be very gameable, and that there was really limited rigorous evidence as to whether efforts to improve grit have lasting impacts.

A cool new paper by Sule Alan, Teodora Boneva, and Seda Ertac makes excellent progress on both fronts. They conduct a large-scale experiment in Turkey with almost 3000 fourth-graders (8-10 year olds) in over 100 classrooms in 52 schools (randomization was at the school level, with 23 schools assigned to treatment).

Should we pay kids to read?

David Evans's picture
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were reading aloud Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s newest book, a short volume entitled Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. The eponymous fifteen suggestions are Adichie’s advice to her friend on how to raise her daughter – Chizalum – as a feminist. Here’s the fifth suggestion: “Teach Chizalum to read. Teach her to love books. The best way is by casual example. If she sees you reading, she will understand that reading is valuable.” This all seems sensible. Now, skip down to the end: “If all else fails, pay her to read. Reward her. I know this remarkable Nigerian woman, Angela, a single mother who was raising her child in the United States; her child did not take to reading so she decided to pay her five cents a page. An expensive endeavor, she later jokes, but a worthy investment.” In the margin, I scribbled, “Look at lit on this.”
 

 

The importance of study design (why did a CCT program have no effects on schooling or HIV?)

Berk Ozler's picture

A recent paper in Lancet Global Health found that generous conditional cash transfers to female secondary school students had no effect on their school attendance, dropout rates, HIV incidence, or HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus – type 2) incidence. What happened?

Scaling Up Effective Programs – Kenya and Liberia Edition

David Evans's picture
Over the last decade, both Kenya and Liberia have sought to scale up successful pilot programs that help children to learn to read. Even as more and more impact evaluations are of programs at scale, pilots still constitute a significant portion of what we test. That’s with good reason: Governments wisely seek to pilot and test programs before expending valuable resources in implementing a program across the country.

What’s new in education research? Impact evaluations and measurement – March round-up

David Evans's picture



Here is a curated round-up of recent research on education in low- and middle-income countries, with a few findings from high-income countries that I found relevant. All are from the last few months, since my last round-up.

If I’m missing recent articles that you’ve found useful, please add them in the comments!

Weekly links February 17: Don’t give up on your research ideas but do give up on unwarranted policy recommendations

David Evans's picture
 
  • Chris Blattman provides an incentive to delay giving up on that great research idea you’ve been peddling for years in this story from the EconTalk podcast: For years, he pitched random African factory owners the idea of an RCT of factory employment. “They’d usually look at me kind of funny. They wouldn’t leap at the possibility. I was just this person they met on a plane.” One day it worked, and six weeks later he was randomizing applicants.

Technoskeptics pay heed: A computer-assisted learning program that delivers learning results

David Evans's picture
Some years ago, a government I was working with really wanted to increase the data they had on their own education system. They didn’t have great data on student attendance or teacher attendance, much less on tardiness or instruction time. They designed an information management system with swipe cards for every student and teacher to use going in and out of classrooms, all of which would feed wirelessly into the district office, allowing real-time interventions to improve education. It sounded amazing! And it fell apart before it ever began.

Can providing information to parents improve student outcomes? 4 recent papers show it can (Chile, Malawi, and US x2)

David Evans's picture
My oldest child started middle school this year, and I suddenly started receiving emails every other week with updates on his grades. I’d never received anything like this before and was overwhelmed (and a little annoyed) by the amount of information. Someone told me that I could go to some website to opt out, but that seemed like too much work. So I continue getting the emails. And sure enough, now I follow up: “Hey, are you going to speak to your teacher about making up that assignment?

Pages