Some Children Left Behind: Variation in the Effects of an Educational Intervention

61 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021 Last revised: 30 Jun 2022

See all articles by Julie Buhl-Wiggers

Julie Buhl-Wiggers

Copenhagen Business School

Jason Kerwin

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics

Juan Muñoz-Morales

Catholic University of Lille - IESEG School of Management

Jeffrey A. Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Rebecca L. Thornton

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2021

Abstract

We document substantial variation in the effects of a highly-effective literacy pro-gram in northern Uganda. The program increases test scores by 1.40 SDs on average, but standard statistical bounds show that the impact standard deviation exceeds 1.0SD. This implies that the variation in effects across our students is wider than the spread of mean effects across all randomized evaluations of developing country education interventions in the literature. This very effective program does indeed leave some students behind. At the same time, we do not learn much from our analyses that attempt to determine which students benefit more or less from the program. We reject rank preservation, and the weaker assumption of stochastic increasingness leaves wide bounds on quantile-specific average treatment effects. Neither conventional nor machine-learning approaches to estimating systematic heterogeneity capture more than a small fraction of the variation in impacts given our available candidate moderators.

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Suggested Citation

Buhl-Wiggers, Julie and Kerwin, Jason and Muñoz-Morales, Juan and Smith, Jeffrey Andrew and Thornton, Rebecca L., Some Children Left Behind: Variation in the Effects of an Educational Intervention (November 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w29459, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3958646

Julie Buhl-Wiggers (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Jason Kerwin

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

MN
United States

Juan Muñoz-Morales

Catholic University of Lille - IESEG School of Management ( email )

Socle de la Grande Arche
1 Parvis de la Defense
Puteaux, 92800
France

Jeffrey Andrew Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Rebecca L. Thornton

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

Champaign, IL
United States

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