NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Improving Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: Lessons from Rigorous Evaluations

Richard J. Murnane, Alejandro J. Ganimian

NBER Working Paper No. 20284
Issued in July 2014
NBER Program(s):   ED

This paper describes four lessons derived from 115 rigorous impact evaluations of educational initiatives in 33 low- and middle-income countries. First, reducing the costs of going to school and providing alternatives to traditional public schools increase attendance and attainment, but do not consistently increase student achievement. Second, providing information about school quality and returns to schooling generally improves student attainment and achievement, but building parents’ capacity works only when focused on tasks they can easily learn to perform. Third, more or better resources do not improve student achievement unless they change children’s daily experiences at school. Finally, well-designed incentives for teachers increase their effort and improve the achievement of students in very low performance settings, but low-skilled teachers need specific guidance to reach minimally acceptable levels of instruction.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20284

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