From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application

37 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Rukmini Banerji

Pratham Education Foundation

James Berry

Cornell University - Department of Economics

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Harini Kannan

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Shobhini Mukerji

Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR)

Marc Shotland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Michael Walton

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

The promise of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is that evidence gathered through the evaluation of a specific program helps us -possibly after several rounds of fine-tuning and multiple replications in different contexts - to inform policy. However, critics have pointed out that a potential constraint in this agenda is that results from small, NGO-run 'proof-of-concept' studies may not apply to policies that can be implemented by governments on a large scale. After discussing the potential issues, this paper describes the journey from the original concept to the design and evaluation of scalable policy. We do so by evaluating a series of strategies that aim to integrate the NGO Pratham's 'Teaching at the Right Level' methodology into elementary schools in India. The methodology consists of re-organizing instruction based on children's actual learning levels, rather than on a prescribed syllabus, and has previously been shown to be very effective when properly implemented. We present RCT evidence on the designs that failed to produce impacts within the regular schooling system but helped shape subsequent versions of the program. As a result of this process, two versions of the programs were developed that successfully raised children's learning levels using scalable models in government schools.

Keywords: education, India

JEL Classification: I20, I21, O12, O35

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Banerji, Rukmini and Berry, James and Duflo, Esther and Kannan, Harini and Mukerji, Shobhini and Shotland, Marc and Walton, Michael, From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application (January 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11762. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2900179

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Rukmini Banerji

Pratham Education Foundation ( email )

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James Berry

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

414 Uris Hall
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Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
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617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

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United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Harini Kannan

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street, E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Shobhini Mukerji

Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) ( email )

24 Kothari Road
Nungambakkam
Chennai, Tamilnadu 600034
India

Marc Shotland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street, E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Michael Walton

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4562 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

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