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The Importance of Education Quality. Ariel Fiszbein Chief Economist, Human Development Network World Bank Brussels, June 24, 2008. 1. Education quality is about children learning. It’s about children learning.

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the importance of education quality

The Importance of Education Quality

Ariel Fiszbein

Chief Economist,

Human Development Network

World Bank

Brussels, June 24, 2008

it s about children learning
It’s about children learning...
  • Education quality means that enough learning takes place in schools: we often assume it but….
  • Why should we care about learning outcomes?
    • Because individual returns to education are linked to learning, not just to years of education
    • Because the overall economy benefits from quality education
estimated returns to cognitive skills examples
Estimated Returns to Cognitive Skills: Examples
  • Three studies conducted in the U.S. show a 12% increase in earnings for every 1 SD increase in math scores. (Mulligan,1999; Murnane et al, 2000; Lazear, 2003)
  • Chilean data shows that 1 SD increase in test scores on the IALS is associated with higher earnings of 15-20%. (Sakellariou, 2006)
education quality and economic growth
Education Quality and Economic Growth

Hanushek and Woessman, 2007


Reading and Math Performance on the OECD PISA Exams, 2000-2003

WB Global Monitoring Report, 2007

student performance in mathematics what it means









Student performance in mathematics:What it means?








PISA, 2006


can indian children read
Can Indian children read?
  • 41% of children in class 5 cannot read at class 2 level
  • 22% of children in class 2 cannot recognize words
  • 58% of children in class 5 cannot divide (3 digit by 1 digit)

2007 Annual Survey of Education Report (Rural), Pratham

what are children in pakistan punjab learning
What are children in Pakistan (Punjab) learning?

LEAPS Data - Punjab, Pakistan 2007

the policy challenge
The policy challenge:
  • What are the levers to improve learning outcomes?
  • A variety of factors can potentially influence learning outcomes: households, schools, environment….
  • But we often can’t tell because of lack of rigorous evidence
a general theory of what influences learning outcomes
A ‘general’ theory of what influences learning outcomes

Vegas and Petrow. “Raising Student Learning in Latin America: The Challenge for the 21st Century”. 2008.

examples of interventions
Examples of interventions…
  • Student/parent behavior & endowments: Early childhood development
  • School endowments: Textbooks, technology
  • Teacher endowments and behaviors: Salary incentives linked to performance, Capacity building
  • School behaviors: School councils, non-government provision

Given large inequalities in endowments, a key role of all interventions is to promote equality of educational opportunity

early childhood interventions payoff later in life including at school
Early childhood interventions payoff later in life (including at school)
  • Colombia: increased child height (approx 2.4 cm/child), increased school attendance when in high-school (20 percentage points)
  • US (Perry Preschool Project): At age 40 participants had 1/3 higher earnings, more likely to be employed, less arrests, etc.
  • Uruguay: 27% higher school attendance by age 16

Sources: Attanasio and Vera-Hernandez(2004), Schweinhart (2005), Berlinski, Galiani, and Manacorda (2006)

inputs and pedagogical change can have effects but it is unclear how context specific they are
Inputs and pedagogical change can have effects but it is unclear how context specific they are…
  • Textbooks: No impact on test scores in Kenya
  • IT: Computers with math games in primary schools in India had 0.47 SD increase in math test scores
  • Remedial education in India, 0.14 SD increase in test scores in year 1, 0.28 SD increase in year 2.

Sources: (Glewwe, Kremer, and Moulin, 2003) and (Banerjee et al, 2006)

affecting teachers can be a powerful instrument
Affecting teachers can be a powerful instrument
  • Simply adding more teachers (w/o changing level of effort) does not help.
  • Kenya: Students of contract teachers score .18 SD higher than students taught by civil service teachers
  • India (AP): Monetary incentives to teachers increased test scores by 0.15 SD; more inputs to schools (extra teacher, block grant for school supply needs) only by 0.09 SD

Duflo, Dupas, and Kremer (2007); Muralidharan and Sundararaman (2006)

institutional factors does decentralization work
Institutional factors: Does decentralization ‘work’?
  • Argentina: decentralization to provincial governments, with little vertical or horizontal accountability
    • Improve test scores in relatively wealthier areas, but made the poor worse off
    • Improvement in ‘well-run’ provinces, badly-run provinces worse off

Sebastian Galiani, Ernesto Schargrodsky, Paul Gertler (2005)

institutional factors does community participation work
Institutional factors: Does community participation work?
  • Mexico: School-based management initiative in rural, disadvantaged schools reduced repetition and failure
  • Pakistan: School councils did not affect learning outcomes, but study only captured year-1 effects.
  • India: information campaign on education outcomes improved teacher attendance and learning outcomes.

Sources: Gertler, Patrinos, and Rubio (2006), Das (2008) and Pandey, (2008)

institutional factors do non government schools work
Institutional factors: Do non-government schools work?
  • Pakistan: Children in private schools are 1.5-2.5 years ahead of children in government schools in terms of learning, controlling for child, household and school characteristics (Das, et al. LEAPS, 2007)
  • Bogotá: New, privately run, schools in poor, urban neighborhoods reduced dropout rates by 1.7 percentage points and improved test scores in math and reading by 0.19 SD and 0.27 SD, respectively (Barrera, 2006)
an agenda for education quality
An Agenda for Education Quality
  • More systematic measurement of learning outcomes
    • International assessments
    • National assessments
  • No silver bullet: results likely to need actions to influence students/parents, teachers and schools –and the right inputs!
  • Strong links with broader economic policies
  • Evidence-based policy: evaluation of reform programs is key
  • Political economy: who cares?
who cares about quality
Who cares about quality?

Prime Minister: Education in this country is a disaster. We're supposed to prepare children for work. Most of the time they're bored stiff.

Sir Humphrey: I should've thought that being bored stiff was an excellent preparation for work.

(Yes, Prime Minister! BBC television series)

percent of countries that carried out at least one assessment between 1995 1999 and 2000 2006
Percent of countries that carried out at least one assessment between 1995-1999 and 2000-2006