NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Targeted Remedial Education: Experimental Evidence from Peru

Juan Saavedra, Emma Näslund-Hadley, Mariana Alfonso

NBER Working Paper No. 23050
Issued in January 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Economics of Education

An outstanding challenge in education is improving learning among low-achieving students. We present results from the first randomized experiment of an inquiry-based remedial science-education program for low-performing elementary students in the setting of a developing country. At 48 low-income public elementary schools in Lima, Peru and surrounding areas, third-grade students scoring in the bottom half of their science classes were selected at random to receive up to 16 remedial sessions of 90 minutes each during the school year. Control-group compliance with assignment (no extra tutoring) was close to perfect. Treatment-group compliance was roughly 40 percent, or five to six remedial sessions—a 4 to 5 percent increase in total science instruction time over the school year. Despite the low-intensity treatment, students assigned to the remedial sessions scored 0.12 standard deviations higher on a science endline test. But all improvements were concentrated among boys, for whom gains were 0.22 standard deviations. Remedial education does not produce within-student spillovers to math, or spillovers on other students.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23050

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