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How to use evidence to improve student learning

David Evans's picture
Access to education is improving but so must the quality of learning. (Arne Hoel/World Bank)

See if you can spot the pattern:
  • “Although the quantity of schooling has expanded rapidly, quality is often abysmal.” (Kremer et al.)
  • “Between 1999 and 2009, an extra 52 million children enrolled in primary school…Yet the quality of education in many schools is unacceptably poor.” (Krishnaratne et al.)
  • “Progress over the last decade in regards to school access and enrollment has been promising.” But “current learning levels for primary as well as secondary school students are extremely low in much of Sub-Saharan Africa” (Conn)
  •  “The most consistent focus of investment has been on increasing primary and secondary school enrollment rates… More recently, however, attention has begun to swing toward the quality of schools and the achievement of students—and here the evidence on outcomes is decidedly more mixed.” (Glewwe et al.)
  • “Over the past decade, low- and middle-income countries have made considerable progress in increasing the number of children and youth who enroll in school and stay long enough to learn basic skills… Learning in many low- and middle-income countries remains appallingly low.” (Murnane & Ganimian)

Again and again, we hear the refrain: access is improving, but learning lags. Thankfully, an increasing number of studies reveal interventions that work – and those that don’t – to improve learning around the world.

Mapping the World Bank’s support for education

Luis Benveniste's picture

Every year, the World Bank generates a wealth of useful information about education systems across the globe, from project-driven appraisal documents and results stories to country-specific data and news to impact evaluations and everything in between. Through the Smarter Education Systems tool, this information, which can often be overwhelming to navigate and curate, is becoming more easily accessible, digestible, and searchable. The Smarter Education Systems tool demonstrates how the World Bank helps countries ensure "Learning for All" through support to countries on both the financing (loans, grants, and more) and knowledge (research, publications, and more) fronts.

How countries deliver high-quality early learning: Insights through a systems approach

Shawn Powers's picture
Starting them young and making the early years count. (Trevor Samson/World Bank)
Providing quality early learning to children is one of the most important investments a country can make. Evidence has linked investments in the early years to better outcomes in school, improved work prospects and higher wages in adulthood, and even better health. Inequities in education start in early childhood, with consequences that ripple through later stages in life. We also know that quality counts: poor-quality early learning environments can be unhelpful or even detrimental for a child’s future.
Less well understood, however, is how countries can deliver high-quality early learning services equitably and at scale. How do countries get from a small-scale, well monitored pilot—which is where a lot of our evidence comes from—to a national program, without diluting quality too much or leaving behind the most disadvantaged children? How can countries build a motivated, well-trained workforce that understands and can serve the distinctive developmental needs of children before the primary years? What are effective models to work with private providers?
The Early Learning Partnership (ELP) is embarking on a new research program to generate some answers to these questions. ELP is a multi-donor trust fund at the World Bank which provides analytic and operational support to World Bank teams and client countries who want to invest in early childhood. With support from the UK Department for International Development, we are launching the ELP Systems Research Program, with an initial focus on Ethiopia, Liberia, the Punjab province in Pakistan, and Tanzania.

Six ways to turn education spending into investments with high returns

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Education is an investment: every year of schooling raises earnings by ten percent. Photo: Maxim Zolotukhin / World Bank

Last month, I joined a group of former education ministers and experts for a consultation on the key challenges facing ministries of education and how to formulate an appropriate curriculum.

PBS Documentary follows students around the world for 12 years as they fight to get basic education

Nina Chaudry's picture
 2003 – 2016

The idea for this 12-year documentary project, Time for School, came after Pamela Hogan (our producer) read an op-ed in which economist Amartya Sen argued that investing in education was key to promoting a country’s economic and social growth.

The next generation of African scientists need a more sustainable career path

Rama George-Alleyne's picture
A professor teaching cell biology and biochemistry at a university in Africa. (Stephan Gladieu / World Bank)

Happy UN Day for South –South Cooperation!
Investment in skills is vital to economic growth and competitiveness and poverty reduction. I believe that there is no better way to do that than to educate young graduates with expertise in high-demand areas to help grow African economies, create jobs, and support research.

Quality education needed to boost women’s economic empowerment

Keiko Inoue's picture
Better educated women secure brighter futures for themselves and lift entire households out of poverty.

While Hillary Clinton is cracking the glass ceiling, if not yet shattering it entirely, in the United States by becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, recent analysis on U.S. women in the workforce presents a more sobering finding.

Preparing great primary school teachers is not so elementary

Betsy Brown Ruzzi's picture
Also available in: Español and Français
High-performing systems set rigorous standards for becoming a teacher in order to ensure that only the most qualified individuals enter classrooms

Ed's note: This guest blog is by Betsy Brown Ruzzi of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

Developing teachers with a deep understanding of the content they teach underpins the success of primary schools in top-performing education systems.  This is one of the key findings in a new report recently released by the National Center on Education and the Economy’s Center on International Education Benchmarking, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Systems.

The significance of Int’l Youth Day in 2016

Anne Elicaño's picture
Students on campus. Photo: Nafise Motlaq / World Bank

There is plenty to celebrate about being a young person. Since 1999, the United Nations commemorates the ideas and initiatives of young people everywhere with International Youth Day. To me, it’s particularly significant this year because it’s the first International Youth Day since the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, were adopted (last September 2015).

The SDGs aim to address “the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people” by 2030. Fourteen years from now may seem like a distant dream but it’s really not that far ahead. Today’s 16 year old will be 30 by then and  whatever foundations are laid down today will inevitably impact his/her world forever. 

Trends in returns to schooling: why governments should invest more in people’s skills

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Students at a training center.

One of the biggest economic benefits of schooling are labor market earnings. For many people, education and experience are their only assets. This is why I believe that it’s very important to know the economic benefits of investments in schooling.