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What The Wire can teach us about psychometrics

Alaka Holla's picture



In the first season of The Wire, an American crime drama television series, a young girl who lives in a poor and crime-ridden neighborhood asks Wallace, a teenaged drug dealer, for help with a math problem. It's a word problem that has multiple passengers getting on and off a bus and that asks how many passengers are on the bus at the end of it. The girl is lost. Wallace reframes the problem for her, describing a situation in which different buyers and sellers of crack cocaine take and give her different numbers of vials. When she answers correctly, Wallace asks her why she can't do the same problem when it's in her math book. She explains that if she gets the vial count wrong, the drug dealers will hurt her, so she must get it right.

Mi profesora Estela

Valeria Bolla's picture
Also available in: English
Photo credit World Bank

Cuando tenía 13 años, mi profesora de literatura, Estela, propuso a la clase el siguiente ejercicio:  observar dos dibujos y escribir una historia sobre cada uno de ellos. Miré los dibujos: uno era de un hombre con traje y corbata que cargaba un maletín y usaba un lindo reloj. El otro era del mismo hombre, pero tenía barba crecida, ropa rasgada y zapatos gastados. Escribí la primera historia sobre un hombre exitoso con una familia increíble, y la segunda sobre un hombre pobre, triste y sin amigos. Estela pareció decepcionada y me preguntó si las personas se definen por su ropa. Ese día, mi profesora habló sobre prejuicios y yo aprendí algo que no olvidaré jamás.

My teacher Estela

Valeria Bolla's picture
Also available in: Español
Photo credit World Bank

When I was 13, my literature teacher Estela asked the class to look at two drawings and write down a story about each one them. I looked at the drawings: one was of a man in a suit and tie who was carrying a suitcase and wearing a watch. The other was of the same man but he had a beard, torn clothes and broken shoes. I wrote the first story about a successful man with an amazing family, the second about a poor, sad man who had no friends. Estela seemed disappointed and asked me if people are defined by their clothes. That day, my teacher spoke about prejudices and I learned something that I won’t forget.

Ayudar a cada docente a dar lo mejor de sí

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: English | Français
Ecoles Oued Eddahab school in Kenitra, Morocco. Photo: World Bank

En todos los países hay maestros dedicados y entusiastas que enriquecen y transforman la vida de millones de chicos. Son héroes silenciosos que suelen no estar entrenados, no tener materiales didácticos adecuados, o no recibir reconocimiento por su trabajo. Son héroes que desafían las estadísticas y hacen posible que los chicos aprendan con alegría, rigor y propósito.

Helping Every Teacher Be Their Best

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: Español | Français
Ecoles Oued Eddahab school in Kenitra, Morocco. Photo: World Bank

In every country, there are dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who enrich and transform the lives of millions of children. Silent heroes who often lack proper training, teaching materials and are not recognized for their work. Heroes who defy the odds and make learning happen with passion, creativity and determination.

Excuse me, can anyone tell me the cost of this education program?

Samuel Fishman's picture


With the World Bank’s assistance, many governments are seeking to expand or improve early childhood education programs. The Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund is supporting a number of evaluations that will help us estimate the benefits of these investments, but we shouldn’t just care about effectiveness. In a world of resource constraints, we also need to tell countries about the cost-effectiveness of these investments. To do this, we need to know the costs of the programs we’re evaluating. Unfortunately, organizations often don’t collect and regularly report intervention specific cost data.

Educating for the future: The case of East Asia

Raja Bentaouet Kattan's picture
Photo by World/Bank

The purpose of any education system is to equip learners with the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. Currently, East Asia is home to seven of the top ten education systems in the world. Despite impressive achievements, these above-average performing systems are not resting on their accomplishments—they continue to deepen the quality of education, tying learning to new and emerging needs. Central to the region’s curriculum reform is a focus on teaching and measuring 21st century skills.

Potenciar las habilidades socioemocionales de los estudiantes en México

Pablo Peña's picture
Also available in: English
El número y el alcance de las intervenciones destinadas a promover las habilidades socioemocionales continúan aumentando. Foto: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Las habilidades socioemocionales (también llamadas habilidades no cognitivas, del carácter o interpersonales) han ocupado recientemente el centro del debate (PDF, en inglés) sobre cómo mejorar los resultados educativos. Cada vez hay más pruebas (PDF, en inglés) de que estas habilidades son tan importantes como la inteligencia para determinar el éxito académico y profesional. Existen algunas evidencias que indican que las habilidades socioemocionales pueden potenciarse.

Fostering Student Socioemotional Skills in Mexico

Pablo Peña's picture
Also available in: Español
Interventions aimed at fostering socioemotional skills continue to grow in number and scope. However, many questions remain about the extent to which these skills are malleable and exactly how they can be cultivated. Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Socioemotional skills (also referred to as non-cognitive skills, character skills, or soft skills) have recently become part of the discourse on how to improve educational outcomes. There is growing evidence that those skills may be as important as intelligence in determining academic and professional success. There is already some evidence indicating that socioemotional skills can be encouraged.

La senda del éxito del sistema educativo de Finlandia

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: English



Cuando los estudiantes finlandeses obtuvieron en el año 2001 los puntajes más altos en la prueba del Programa Internacional de Evaluación de Estudiantes (PISA) —pruebas de aprendizaje implementadas por la  OCDE, numerosas personas en el campo de la educación se sintieron intrigadas. ¿Cómo este pequeño país, que no se había caracterizado por lograr buenos resultados en el pasado, pudo situarse en la parte superior de la clasificación? Los mismos finlandeses se sorprendieron. Cuando los estudiantes finlandeses continuaron obteniendo puntajes por encima de lo esperado año tras año, educadores y líderes de todo el mundo comenzaron a ver al país como un ejemplo de lo que se debe hacer para crear sistemas educativos eficaces. No sólo los estudiantes logran sistemáticamente un alto desempeño, sino también las diferencias en el rendimiento académico entre alumnos y regiones son las más bajas en el mundo. Equidad con calidad.

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