Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

 

Chart showing that the actual pass rates and the rates of our sample, with the same students sitting for multiple tests, show almost identical variation year-to-year

Can Ghana Maintain School Quality After Abolishing Secondary School Fees? We May Never Know.

Each year over two million secondary-school students across Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia sit coordinated tests known as the WASSCE. In a new CGD working paper, undertaken by researchers from CGD and IEPA-Ghana, we look at English and maths papers in West Africa’s leading high-stakes exams and show that they can vary significantly in difficulty from year-to-year. If exams are not comparable over time then this has implications for countries that rely on results as they make education policy and for fairness for the candidates who sit them.

A “Rosetta Stone” for Comparing Test Scores Around the World (and Across the Global Income Distribution)

How much do educational outcomes around the world depend on where you were born? In a new CGD working paper, we propose a very simple strategy to overcome this problem and build a “Rosetta Stone” for test scores. We take a single sample of students and give them questions from each major exam around the world. By grading each child’s responses on the original test scales, we calculate scores on different exams for the same child on the same day.

Detail of chart showing that taxes can exacerbate poverty in the poorest countries

Chart of the Week: Taxing the Poor to Give to the Bureaucrat?

The world’s poorest people have been getting richer recently. But they remain incredibly poor. The 10 percent of the world’s population still consuming $1.90 or less a day are subsisting on a small fraction of the resources available to people at the US poverty line. So you’d hope that the governments of the countries where they live would be trying to raise their consumption levels. But the reality is more complex.

Chart of the Week: Gender Pay Gaps around the World Are Bigger Than You Think, and Have Almost Nothing to Do with Girls Schooling

While I think it's silly to argue we spend too much on girls' education, perhaps it's reasonable to ask whether a concern with gender equality and a cold hard look at recent data would lead anyone to put their marginal dollar into girls' schooling over, say, campaigning for gender quotas (which seem to work well in Indian politics, at least) or even subsidized childcare (which has boosted female labor force participation in Latin America).

Can Outsourcing Improve Liberia's Schools? Preliminary RCT Results

Last summer, the Liberian government delegated management of 93 public elementary schools to eight different private contractors. Given the intense controversy around the program, the government—with some encouragement from our colleagues at Ark Education Partnership Group, who helped manage the program—agreed to randomize the allocation of schools during the pilot, and the three of us partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to evaluate its impacts.

The World Needs More Bad Schools

A commission led by the UN's special envoy for education, Gordon Brown, is calling for a doubling of global aid for education, without any clear reform agenda to raise learning levels in the world's failing school systems. That might be ok: bad schools in poor countries still seem to produce big benefits.

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