Looking Back at the RISE Conference 2022: Session 3 on Positive and Negative Deviance and Outliers

In the third session of the 2022 RISE Annual Conference, presenters discussed findings from Tanzania, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Ghana on positive and negative deviance and outliers in education systems. 


Image of Lillie Kilburn

Lillie Kilburn

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Chaired by Julius Atuhurra, the session sought to explain varied instances of uncommon success and outliers: 

Preparation, Practice, and Beliefs: A Machine Learning Approach to Understanding Teacher Effectiveness

Vatsal Nahata presented research (with co-authors Shwetlena Sabarwal and Deon Filmer) investigating which attributes of a teacher can best predict student learning gains. Their study with Grade 2-3 students in Tanzania and their teachers of mathematics and Kiswahili found that teacher beliefs and practices were far more predictive of student learning gains than teacher age, experience, or qualifications. Their paper is available for reading. 

Is Generalized Impact of Learning Outcomes Explained by Positive Deviance? The Challenge of Social Norms On the Scaling of Early Grade Reading Programs

Simon King presented research (with co-authors Kellie Betts, Alastair Rodd, and Sagar Neupane) into the implementation effectiveness of early-grade reading programmes over time and across schools. Results from schools in Nepal and Tanzania showed that teachers believed their early-grade reading programmes were going well—but although the teachers had adopted the curriculum, their pedagogy hadn’t changed, and learning outcomes weren’t improved. His slide deck is available for viewing. 

Positive Deviance among Sierra Leone’s Secondary Schools: A Deep-Dive Study into Pockets of Effective Learning among Secondary Schools in Sierra Leone

Sourovi De presented research (with co-authors Diana Ofori-Owusu, Nabil Hudda, and Gloria Olisenekwu) and a video explaining the success of Barmin JSS, a rural secondary school in Sierra Leone that is showing high performance despite low resources and a remote location. She explained how Barmin’s teacher commitment, community engagement, strong management, teaching practices, and many other factors are all working together to produce its excellence.

“How Do I Run the Office Without Funds?” Understanding How Districts Plan and Implement Education Policy in Ghana

Minahil Asim and Sheena Bell presented research on Ghana’s decentralised education system, where districts are key in policy implementation and school support. Minahil Asim asked: What factors enable or constrain districts’ ability to implement policy? District actors care deeply, have agency, and find ways to operate effectively, even where resource and contextual challenges exist, explained Sheena Bell. Their slide deck is available for viewing.

Watch the video of the session:

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