Sunday, January 29, 2012


by smf for 4LAKidsNews

Sunday Jan 29 :: There is a radio programme on the BBC World Service called The Forum where intellectuals publicly think aloud and dare us to follow along: “Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas”.

This morning The Forum had a feature with Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Esther Duflo.

MIT economist Duflo is about as data driven as they come – but unlike the data-driven school reform-with-an-® crowd is a traveler-with - not the driver-of – the data. 

Dr. Duflo’s forum appearance discusses this situation – with a scientific open-mindset, curiosity and courage to follow the dataset to where it leads  -- absent the preconceptions, objectives and spin.

I don’t think I’m wandering too far afield here: Poverty Alleviation is the key to closing the (Multiple Buzzword Alert!) Achievement Gap, Leaving No Child Behind, Success for All and 100% Graduation, First in the Nation/Best in the West, etc.

Alleviating poverty is the gateway to The Bright New Beautiful Tomorrow.

Duflo says it’s high time we took the guesswork out of poverty relief and started properly testing their efficacy.

Duflo admits like Einstein that that the process of study changes the outcome (The Observer Effect) and specializes-in and advocates-for the randomized evaluations of social programs on a micro scale. She looks at the small picture on a local scale. Conflate at will. Listen to the program here.

This obviously has application to The Great Question of The Age: Teacher Evaluation.

And Dr. Duflo has gone there already.


Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School
May 2010
Esther Duflow with Rema Hanna and Stephen Ryan

Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya
March 2010
Esther Duflow with Pascaline Dupas and Michael Kremer

Giving Credit Where it is Due
March 2010
Esther Duflow with Abhijit Banerjee

Additional Resources versus Organizational Changes in Education: Experimental Evidence from Kenya
May 2009
Esther Duflow with Pascaline Dupas and Michael Kremer

Being surveyed can change later behavior and related parameter estimates.pdf
November 2010
Esther Duflow with Alix Zwane, Jonathan Zinman, Eric Van Dusen, William Pariente, Clair Null, Edward Miguel, Michael Kremer, Dean Karlan, Richard Hornbeck, Xavier Giné, Florencia Devoto, Bruno Crepon and Abhijit Banerjee

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