Impact of evidence: improving education globally through the use of evidence from systematic reviews – world


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Paul Thissen

With evidence of development, as with many things, more is usually better. But there is a caveat: a lot of evidence on a topic can easily be overwhelming unless there is a good synthesis to disentangle the solid conclusions from the background noise.

The real impacts of the 3ie systematic review on educational interventions show how useful the synthesis of evidence can be for policy makers. The review influenced the education policy recommendations of the World Bank, USAID, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It has been praised for its usefulness by the Peruvian Minister of Education. And a global NGO designed new programming based on its findings.

The systematic review was a gigantic undertaking, synthesizing the results of 216 different programs of 21 different types in 52 countries. The full report spans over 800 pages. To make sure the results were accessible, we also produced an executive summary and an even shorter brief. In addition, we communicated the results through context-relevant presentations and infographics in numerous panel discussions and country-level discussions. When we spoke to Nepalese decision makers, we presented the findings most relevant to the Nepalese context.

The review identified some interventions that repeated studies have found to be effective, such as cash transfers to increase attendance and structured instructional programs to improve student learning. He also highlighted interventions that promise to improve both attendance and learning, but need more evidence, such as school lunch programs.

The findings found an echo in high-level political circles around the world. USAID’s Education Policy for 2018 drew on the review to identify effective approaches to reach marginalized and vulnerable populations. The World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report on Learning cites the review repeatedly to recommend specific types of programming. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has included the review in its own “meta-summary”. The review has also been cited in other influential policy publications, including that of the International Commission on Financing Global Educational Opportunities and this book published by the World Bank on Education in Africa.

“The 3ie systematic review and its synthesis report provide essential information on the effectiveness of structured educational programs, extra teaching time, remedial education and community engagement,” Jaime Saavedra said during the course. of his tenure as Minister of Education of Peru.

Implementing agencies also changed their practices as a result of the review. Pencils for Promise, an international NGO that builds schools and supports education programs, shaped its approaches based on the review findings on structured pedagogy, community monitoring, diagnostic feedback and teacher incentives.

The summary of the impact of the evidence, which inspired this blog post, is available here. Dozens of other cases where evidence from assessments and syntheses informed concrete decisions are detailed in this new section of our evidence hub.

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