EI - Dialogues in Conversation with Dr. Rukmini Banerji, Pratham CEO and RISE Intellectual Leadership Team Member
As part of the EI - Dialogues video podcast series, Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO at Pratham and RISE Intellectual Leadership Team member was in conversation with Pranav Kothari, Vice President of Large Scale Education Programs at Educational Initiatives.
Trained as an economist in India, Dr. Rukmini Banerji completed her BA at St. Stephen’s College and attended the Delhi School of Economics. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and earned her PhD at the University of Chicago.
As usual Ludger Woessmann and Eric Hanushek (this time with Annika Bergbauer) have written an interesting, provocative, and relevant paper—this time on testing.
“Do kids in developing countries need less reading and math skills than OECD Kids?” This question did not appear on the agenda at a three-day workshop recently organized by USAID. It was not even articulated. But the entire event—rather opaquely titled: “Linking Assessments to a Global Standard with Social Moderation”—was predicated on the assumption that some new global standards were needed because the definitions of basic reading and math skills used by the OECD are too unattainable for many/most developing countries. If that sounds horribly retrograde and paternalistic, it is.
Source: Luis Crouch, using data from EGRA learning assessments and other publications, and taking a stylized average across sets of countries.
High-stakes national assessments in developing countries tend to have important consequences for test takers. These assessments can determine a child’s future opportunities by deciding whether a child progresses to a higher grade or achieves a certain certification to enter the workforce. Because these assessments are important for both children and teachers, they have a strong influence on what actually happens inside the classroom, and as a result, on the learning outcomes of children.
In the last international PISA assessment for math and science, Vietnam outperformed many developed countries, including the UK and the US. Yet Vietnam only has a small fraction of the GDP of these countries. No other low-income country performs at the same level or better than developed countries on an international assessment.
What does it mean for a country to “pivot to learning”? What specific education policies change? How hard is it to implement these – both technically and politically? And above all, how long does it take for student learning actually to improve?