Senior Lecturer in Public Policy
Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention:
Evidence from Randomized Evaluations
of “Teaching at the Right Level” in India
Banerjee, Abhijit, Rukmini Banerji, James Berry, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukerji, Marc Shotland, and Michael Walton. "Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations of “Teaching at the Right Level” in India." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-043, August 2016.
Previous randomized studies have shown that addressing children’s current learning gaps, rather than following an over-ambitious uniform curriculum, can lead to significant learning
gains. In this study, we evaluate a series of efforts to scale up the NGO Pratham’s approach to teaching children according to their actual learning level, in four Indian States. While this approach was previously shown to be extremely effective when implemented with community volunteers outside of school, the objective of these new scale-up evaluations was to develop a model that could be implemented within the government school system. In the first two instances (Bihar and Uttarakhand), the methodology was not adopted by government schoolteachers, despite well-received training sessions and Pratham support.
Motivated by the quantitative and qualitative analysis of these early attempts, we adapted the approach and designed large-scale experiments in the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to
test two new scale-up models. In Haryana, teachers received support from government
resource persons trained by Pratham, and implemented the approach during a dedicated hour. In Uttar Pradesh, Pratham volunteers implemented high-intensity, short-burst “learning camps” for 40 days, in school and during school hours, with additional 10-day summer camps. Both models proved effective, with gains in language of 0.15 standard deviation in
Haryana, and 0.70 standard deviations in Uttar Pradesh, on all students enrolled in these schools at baseline. These two models provide blueprints that can be replicated inside other government systems.