February 2, 2021

Evidence at USAID, part two

In my last blog post, I shared some thoughts on Sarah Rose’s excellent recent working paper on how USAID could become more evidence based. TLDR: I argue that USAID doesn’t necessarily need to generate evidence (since there are plenty of other orgs that do that) but it does need to the use the latest and best evidence. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Roses’ paper has several interesting recommendations for ensuring that USAID makes better use of evidence. Read more

January 2, 2021

Evidence at USAID

Sarah Rose at the Center for Global Development recently published an excellent note on how to make USAID programming more evidence-based. As a former member of one of the groups mentioned in the article (the Evaluation and Impact Assessment group at the erstwhile Global Development Lab) and a long-time evaluator, this is a topic dear to my cold, data-driven heart. I realize that probably marks me as a member of very small fraternity, but people really should care more about making donors more evidence-based! Read more

August 7, 2020

IHDS Quick Start Guide

I recently used data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) for a paper on learning outcomes data in India. IHDS is a panel survey led by Sonalde Desai and others at NCAER/UofMd which collected on a wide range of topics from ~42,000 households across India. The survey includes two rounds of data collection, the first round in 2004/5 and the second round in 2011/12. (According to the website, a third round is in the works. Read more

July 12, 2020

School versus household based surveys for collecting learning outcomes data

I recently wrote a working paper in which I look at the reliability of learning outcomes data in India. The main findings of the paper are a) the government-run survey of learning outcomes (called the NAS) likely contains a lot of noise and b) the main independent survey of learning outcomes (ASER) is a tad bit noisier than the survey’s sample size would lead one to believe. In the process of working on the paper, I spent a bit of time looking at learning outcomes surveys across the world. Read more

May 26, 2020

Why India Should Focus on Educational TV rather than EdTech

A couple of weeks ago, Rob Sampson and I published an op-ed in Quartz India arguing that the central and state governments in India should use Educational TV rather than smartphone-based EdTech to reach students out of school due to the covid crisis. We use survey data to show that smartphone penetration in India is much lower than sales figures would lead you to believe. By contrast, TV ownership is relatively high even among the poor. Read more

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