Thursday, May 26, 2011

22 Seems to be the Magic Number in Solving Education problems!

In a previous post, I introduced the book by Stuart S. Yeh Entitled “The Cost-Effectiveness of 22 Approaches for Raising Student Achievement”.
Now the World Bank released a report entitled “Making Schools Work – New Evidence on Accountability Reforms” which is based on 22 recent impact evaluations of accountability-focused reforms in 11 developing countries. I wonder why this fascination with the number 22?

In the book (written by Barbara Burns, Deon Filmer and Harry Anthony Patrinos) they investigate strategies to address “service delivery failures” where increased spending does not lead to a concomitant change in education output (completion) or outcomes (learning). The idea is that if people in the schooling system are held accountable, things will improve.

This book focuses specifically on
three key strategies to strengthen accountability relationships in school systems—information for accountability, school-based management, and teacher incentives
 and looks into how these can affect school enrolment, completion, and student learning.

Main findings about the three strategies include:

Information for accountability (for example – providing “school report cards”) seems to work, but it isn’t a solution to all the problems. Which information is shared, who it is shared with and how it is shared are important considerations which could help parents, communities and other role players identify where the weaknesses in the system is.

School based management reforms (e.g. implementing effective school governance, and school based management) are effective, but these “reforms need at least five years to bring about fundamental changes at the school level and about eight years to yield significant changes in test scores”

Teacher incentives of two kinds have been investigated: Contract teachers (where teachers are contracted on condition that they deliver certain results), and pay for performance reforms (bonuses from meeting targets) seem to be successful too, but perverse behaviours (Such as gaming, cheating or teaching to the test) are likely to abound and eventually negate the overall success of this strategy.

We’ve seen some progress in this regard in the South African schooling system: School Management and Governance training remains an important component of “whole school” development, and the implementation of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) is likely to evolve into an “information for accountability” initiative. (Also see this article about the ANA’s in the local press). Perhaps its time to take the hand of the labour unions and see how incentivising teachers can be implemented?

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