Quality of education
Lerner's Lucas studies cost-effectiveness in Indian, African schools
7:59 a.m., Sept. 20, 2012--The University of Delaware’s Adrienne Lucas, assistant professor of economics in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, has been awarded a grant of over $50,000 to conduct research on the cost-effectiveness of raising student achievement in schools in Africa and India.
The funding is part of a $300,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation through its Quality of Education in Developing Countries (QEDC) initiative, which provides an opportunity to compare the impacts and cost-effectiveness of six school interventions.
Studying in Tuscany
Lucas is working as part of a team that includes Patrick McEwan, associate professor of economics at Wellesley College and principal investigator for the project, and Maria Perez, assistant professor at the University of Washington.
Since January, Lucas has been evaluating a classroom intervention in Kenya and Uganda that aimed to increase the effectiveness of primary education. This work will assist policymakers to lay the groundwork for education reform.
The project examines whether a specific intervention can increase the quality of education in both countries. Schools were randomly selected to be either in the “treatment” or “control” groups. Both schools received the standard government materials. In addition, treatment schools were given the intervention, additional teaching and learning materials and teacher training. All students in the treatment and control schools were given both a pre-test and a post-test. To assess the effectiveness of the intervention, Lucas is comparing the test score gains of the treatment students to the control students.
According to Lucas, the intervention was designed to combine human and physical resources to improve the quality of primary school instruction. Part of the study will assess the cost-effectives of the intervention.
“All QEDC funded interventions share a common objective to increase student learning in both mathematics and language,” said Lucas. “The ultimate goal of the interventions is to provide useful information to policymakers who want to implement a new cost-effective teaching method.”
Lucas’ role in the study was to evaluate the overall effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
Last spring, practitioners from sub-Saharan Africa and India met at a conference organized by Lucas and her team to present preliminary findings from all of the QEDC studies.
“Governments are ultimately constrained by budgets and group members are seeking to improve education in a cost effective manner,” said Lucas.
Lucas is now conducting a meta-analysis of all developing country, school based, primary school interventions that measured an achievement outcome. The grant extends another year during which time she said she hopes to draw together the disparate studies into a cohesive narrative that will inform future education policy.
Article by Danielle C. DeVita
Photo by Evan Krape