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Targeted Remedial Education: Experimental Evidence from Peru


  • Juan Saavedra
  • Emma Näslund-Hadley
  • Mariana Alfonso


An outstanding challenge in education is improving learning among low-achieving students. We present results from the first randomized experiment of an inquiry-based remedial science-education program for low-performing elementary students in the setting of a developing country. At 48 low-income public elementary schools in Lima, Peru and surrounding areas, third-grade students scoring in the bottom half of their science classes were selected at random to receive up to 16 remedial sessions of 90 minutes each during the school year. Control-group compliance with assignment (no extra tutoring) was close to perfect. Treatment-group compliance was roughly 40 percent, or five to six remedial sessions—a 4 to 5 percent increase in total science instruction time over the school year. Despite the low-intensity treatment, students assigned to the remedial sessions scored 0.12 standard deviations higher on a science endline test. But all improvements were concentrated among boys, for whom gains were 0.22 standard deviations. Remedial education does not produce within-student spillovers to math, or spillovers on other students.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Saavedra & Emma Näslund-Hadley & Mariana Alfonso, 2017. "Targeted Remedial Education: Experimental Evidence from Peru," NBER Working Papers 23050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23050
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144.
    2. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    3. Sylvie Moulin & Michael Kremer & Paul Glewwe, 2009. "Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 112-135, January.
    4. Eduardo Lora, 2012. "Las reformas estructurales en América Latina: Qué se ha reformado y cómo medirlo (Versión actualizada)," Research Department Publications 4826, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Diether W. Beuermann & Emma Naslund-Hadley & Inder J. Ruprah & Jennelle Thompson, 2013. "The Pedagogy of Science and Environment: Experimental Evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(5), pages 719-736, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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