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From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application

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  • Banerjee, Abhijit
  • Banerji, Rukmini
  • Berry, James
  • Duflo, Esther
  • Kannan, Harini
  • Mukerji, Shobhini
  • Shotland, Marc
  • Walton, Michael

Abstract

The promise of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is that evidence gathered through the evaluation of a specific program helps us -possibly after several rounds of fine-tuning and multiple replications in different contexts - to inform policy. However, critics have pointed out that a potential constraint in this agenda is that results from small, NGO-run 'proof-of-concept'� studies may not apply to policies that can be implemented by governments on a large scale. After discussing the potential issues, this paper describes the journey from the original concept to the design and evaluation of scalable policy. We do so by evaluating a series of strategies that aim to integrate the NGO Pratham's 'Teaching at the Right Level'� methodology into elementary schools in India. The methodology consists of re-organizing instruction based on children's actual learning levels, rather than on a prescribed syllabus, and has previously been shown to be very effective when properly implemented. We present RCT evidence on the designs that failed to produce impacts within the regular schooling system but helped shape subsequent versions of the program. As a result of this process, two versions of the programs were developed that successfully raised children's learning levels using scalable models in government schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Banerjee, Abhijit & Banerji, Rukmini & Berry, James & Duflo, Esther & Kannan, Harini & Mukerji, Shobhini & Shotland, Marc & Walton, Michael, 2017. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application," CEPR Discussion Papers 11762, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11762
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:1-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cristina Corduneanu-Huci & Michael T. Dorsch & Paul Maarek, 2017. "Learning to constrain: Political competition and randomized controlled trials in development," THEMA Working Papers 2017-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    3. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2017. "Generalization in the Tropics: Development policy, randomized controlled trials, and external validity," Ruhr Economic Papers 716, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:185-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jonathan M.V. Davis & Jonathan Guryan & Kelly Hallberg & Jens Ludwig, 2017. "The Economics of Scale-Up," NBER Working Papers 23925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Cameron, Lisa A. & Shah, Manisha, 2017. "Scaling Up Sanitation: Evidence from an RCT in Indonesia," IZA Discussion Papers 10619, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Esther Duflo, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," NBER Working Papers 23213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:103-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus, 2017. "Experimentation at Scale," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 103-124, Fall.
    10. Duflo, Esther, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," CEPR Discussion Papers 11881, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; India;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O35 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Social Innovation

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