Sunday , August 18 2019
Home / Project Syndicate / The Evidence on Education Reforms

The Evidence on Education Reforms

Summary:
DHAKA – It is almost universally agreed that more education is good for society. But it turns out that some popular educational policies achieve very little, while others that are often overlooked can make a huge difference. Reducing class sizes would seem to be an obvious improvement; but by itself, smaller class size has not been shown to boost educational performance. Likewise, extending the school day seems an easy way to ensure that pupils learn more; but research finds that time spent in school matters considerably less than what happens there. And new research for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, the think tank I direct, highlights the counter-intuitive fact that equipping classrooms with additional textbooks or computers is no educational silver bullet, either. As part of a project seeking the smartest policy choices for Bangladesh, Atonu Rabbani of the University of Dhaka shows that technology-aided teaching has a mixed record. Providing pupils with computers made some impact in India, but little in Colombia. In the United States, introducing computers has even been detrimental when not backed by parental supervision and teacher guidance. This finding is supported by a recent OECD study, which revealed that over the last decade there has been no “appreciable improvement” in student achievement in the rich countries that invest most in technology for education.

Topics:
Project Syndicate considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Dan Lieberman writes Demystifying The Mystery Of Debt

Global Economic Intersection Analysis Blog Feed writes What I Learned At Camp Kotok

Bradford DeLong writes Ancient Economies: A Malthusian Model: Markdown Notebook

Bradford DeLong writes A Competitive Market: Python Class/Notebook

DHAKA – It is almost universally agreed that more education is good for society. But it turns out that some popular educational policies achieve very little, while others that are often overlooked can make a huge difference.

Reducing class sizes would seem to be an obvious improvement; but by itself, smaller class size has not been shown to boost educational performance. Likewise, extending the school day seems an easy way to ensure that pupils learn more; but research finds that time spent in school matters considerably less than what happens there.

And new research for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, the think tank I direct, highlights the counter-intuitive fact that equipping classrooms with additional textbooks or computers is no educational silver bullet, either. As part of a project seeking the smartest policy choices for Bangladesh, Atonu Rabbani of the University of Dhaka shows that technology-aided teaching has a mixed record. Providing pupils with computers made some impact in India, but little in Colombia. In the United States, introducing computers has even been detrimental when not backed by parental supervision and teacher guidance.

This finding is supported by a recent OECD study, which revealed that over the last decade there has been no “appreciable improvement” in student achievement in the rich countries that invest most in technology for education.

Surprisingly, the same is true when it comes to basic, conventional schooling improvements like providing extra textbooks and building libraries. In assessing research relevant for policymakers in Bangladesh, Rabbani found only one study showing that additional textbooks definitely improved test scores – and only the top students benefited.

Fashionable projects such as providing laptops to pupils attract a lot of financial support, but it is not always money well spent. Peru, which has received a third of all laptops provided through the organization One Laptop per Child, hosted the first randomized controlled trial to test whether children with a computer did better than those without. The verdict? “There were no impacts on academic achievement or cognitive skills.” In fact, teachers reported that children who received laptops were significantly less likely to make an effort at school.

So how can policymakers do the most good? A seminal study...

Project Syndicate
Project Syndicate produces and delivers original, high-quality commentaries to a global audience. Featuring exclusive contributions by prominent political leaders, policymakers, scholars, business leaders, and civic activists from around the world, we provide news media and their readers cutting-edge analysis and insight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *