What Education Policies Work Best to Increase Student Learning? Lessons from Three Recent Reviews of the Evidence

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Seminar Summary:

The focus of education policy in developing countries, and of bilateral and multilateral assistance to those countries, should be on increasing student learning. Unfortunately, there is at best incomplete evidence on which education policies are most effective for increasing student learning.  This note summarises the findings of 3 different reviews of “what works” to raise student test scores in developing countries.  The reviews are:

  1. “School Resources and Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: A Review of the Literature from 1990 to 2010”, by Paul Glewwe, Eric Hanushek, Sarah Humpage and Renato Ravina.
  2. “Why the McKinsey Reports will not Improve School Systems”, by Frank Coffield.
  3. Chapter 4 in Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo.

The remainder of this note summarises these viewpoints, focusing on:

  • The goals of education
  • The evidence base used
  • Education policies that are viewed as most promising
  • Education policies that are viewed as least promising
  • Assumptions about the process by which policies are adopted
  • Assumptions/proposals about the role of international aid
  • Roles played by parents and local communities


PDF - 1.39 MB

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