Donors and host-country governments invest substantially in programs to improve access to, and quality of, education in developing countries; however, the impact and cost-effectiveness of these interventions are largely untested and they often do not yield the desired results. Recognizing the dearth of scientific evidence on which to base programmatic decisions as it implements its 2011-2015 education strategy, USAID has engaged NORC to provide technical assistance to first define the evaluation landscape on early grade reading and access to education in conflict- and crisis-affected environments by identifying research gaps and key evaluation questions, and then using rigorous impact evaluation designs to address them.
NORC began this global project by undergoing comprehensive literature and program reviews related to improving learning outcomes in early grade reading in the areas of communication for behavior change as it relates to parental and community involvement and incentive and accountability systems. Since then, we are at various stages of designing and conducting rigorous impact and performance evaluations in Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and other countries in the following areas: Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) in Conflict-Affected Areas; Safe Schools and Gender-based Violence in Conflict-Affected Areas; Parental and Community Involvement in Improving Early Grade Reading; All Children Reading; Story Powered Schools; Let Girls Learn Initiative, and Teacher and Student Incentives.
This project employes innovations in its utilization of mixed methods, relying on both qualitative and quantitative data.