Making the Grade: The Sensitivity of Education Program Effectiveness to Input Choices and Outcome Measures

42 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Jul 2020

See all articles by Jason Kerwin

Jason Kerwin

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics

Rebecca L. Thornton

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Economics, Students

Date Written: January 29, 2020

Abstract

This paper demonstrates the acute sensitivity of education program effectiveness to the choices of inputs and outcome measures, using a randomized evaluation of a mother-tongue literacy program. The program raises reading scores by 0.64SDs and writing scores by 0.45SDs. A reduced-cost version instead yields statistically-insignificant reading gains and some large negative effects (-0.33SDs) on advanced writing. We combine a conceptual model of education production with detailed classroom observations to examine the mechanisms driving the results; we show they could be driven by the program initially lowering productivity before raising it, and potentially by missing complementary inputs in the reduced-cost version.

Keywords: Economics of Education, Cost-Effectiveness, Development Economics

JEL Classification: I21, I25, O12, O15

Suggested Citation

Kerwin, Jason and Thornton, Rebecca L., Making the Grade: The Sensitivity of Education Program Effectiveness to Input Choices and Outcome Measures (January 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3002723 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3002723

Jason Kerwin (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

MN
United States

Rebecca L. Thornton

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Champaign, IL
United States

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