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Retrospective vs. Prospective Analyses of School Inputs: The Case of Flip Charts in Kenya

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  • Paul Glewwe
  • Michael Kremer
  • Sylvie Moulin
  • Eric Zitzewitz

Abstract

This paper compares retrospective and prospective analyses of the effect of flip charts on test scores in rural Kenyan schools. Retrospective estimates that focus on subjects for which flip charts are used suggest that flip charts raise test scores by up to 20 percent of a standard deviation. Controlling for other educational inputs does not reduce this estimate. In contrast, prospective estimators based on a study of 178 schools, half of which were randomly selected to receive charts, provide no evidence that flip charts increase test scores. One interpretation is that the retrospective results were subject to omitted variable bias despite the inclusion of control variables. If the direction of omitted variable bias were similar in other retrospective analyses of educational inputs in developing countries, the effects of inputs may be even more modest than retrospective studies suggest. Bias appears to be reduced by a differences-in-differences estimator that examines the impact of flip charts on the relative performance of students in flip chart and other subjects across schools with and without flip charts, but it is not clear that this approach is applicable more generally.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8018.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Publication status: published as Glewwe, Paul & Kremer, Michael & Moulin, Sylvie & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2004. "Retrospective vs. prospective analyses of school inputs: the case of flip charts in Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 251-268, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8018

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  1. Hanushek, Eric A, 1995. "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 227-46, August.
  2. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  3. Krueger, Alan B & Whitmore, Diane M, 2001. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 1-28, January.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 1996. "Understanding the 20th Century Growth in U.S. School Spending," NBER Working Papers 5547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
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