Publication - Working Paper
The purpose of this project is to survey the literature on the effectiveness of education policies adopted in different parts of the world in improving the quantity and quality of education. We also propose to survey the policies adopted by the government of Bihar towards promoting educational outcomes in the state. By placing these policies appropriately in our broader survey framework, we aim to make this work a contextual survey. The survey will cover various policies adopted by governments around the world to improve educational outcomes. It will start by discussing policies that increase enrolment in schools. In this context we will examine how policies that reduce the cost of schooling affect enrolment. Some of the policies that fall in this category are conditional cash transfers, merit scholarships, information provision regarding the returns to schooling, school based health programs. We will also study the policies that Bihar government has in place to reduce the cost of schooling. The recent program of the government providing bicycles to high school students will fall under this category. In addition, there are several scholarship programs run by the government that we will be looking at. Next, we will look at policies aiming to improve school quality or learning outcomes. Programs that fall under this category include increasing schooling inputs (both teacher input and non-teacher input), pedagogical changes, incentive pay for teachers, and incentive for students to perform well. An example of incentivizing students is a recent program in Kenya that offered a small scholarship for the next year to girls who performed in the top 15% on an exam. This program not only improved the performance of girls, but also of boys even though there were no scholarships for boys. Bihar government’s recent effort to hire contract teachers will fall under the category of increasing teacher input as well as the initiatives of Pratham (an educational NGO) to train volunteers to act as teacher’s assistants in government schools in Bihar. We will also be surveying the experimental literature on the effectiveness of incentive pay for teachers including those done in India. In addition, we will be studying the implementation architecture of the teacher incentive pay programs that have been adopted in some countries and some states in the United States with the aim of providing a guideline to the government of Bihar if it were to go down this road. Since many of the teacher incentive programs link incentives to students’ performance on some standardized tests, the first step will involve setting up a framework to measure student performance through standardized tests. Our hope is that this survey will inform policy makers in Bihar and elsewhere in the design of effective educational policy initiatives in addition to being a useful reference for researchers in the area of education policy.