Scaling Up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education

50 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013

See all articles by Tessa Bold

Tessa Bold

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES)

Mwangi Kimenyi

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Germano Mwabu

University of Nairobi - Department of Economics

Alice Ng'ang'a

Strathmore University

Justin Sandefur

Center for Global Development

Date Written: March 27, 2013

Abstract

The recent wave of randomized trials in development economics has provoked criticisms regarding external validity. We investigate two concerns — heterogeneity across beneficiaries and implementers — in a randomized trial of contract teachers in Kenyan schools. The intervention, previously shown to raise test scores in NGO-led trials in Western Kenya and parts of India, was replicated across all Kenyan provinces by an NGO and the government. Strong effects of short-term contracts produced in controlled experimental settings are lost in weak public institutions: NGO implementation produces a positive effect on test scores across diverse contexts, while government implementation yields zero effect. The data suggests that the stark contrast in success between the government and NGO arm can be traced back to implementation constraints and political economy forces put in motion as the program went to scale.

Keywords: education, randomized control trials, Kenya

JEL Classification: I20, I25, I28

Suggested Citation

Bold, Tessa and Kimenyi, Mwangi and Mwabu, Germano and Ng'ang'a, Alice and Sandefur, Justin, Scaling Up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education (March 27, 2013). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 321, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2241240 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2241240

Tessa Bold (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden

Mwangi Kimenyi

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Germano Mwabu

University of Nairobi - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 30197
Nairobi
Kenya
2542226451 (Phone)

Alice Ng'ang'a

Strathmore University ( email )

P.O. Box 3009
Nairobi, 00506
Kenya

Justin Sandefur

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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