School quality and learning gains in rural Guatemala

Author(s): Marshall, Jeffery H.

Date: 2009

Pages: p. 207-216

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I use unusually detailed data on schools, teachers and classrooms to explain student achievement growth in rural Guatemala. Several variables that have received little attention in previous studies - including the number of school days, teacher content knowledge and pedagogical methods - are robust predictors of achievement. A series of decompositions by student ethnicity and type of school shed some additional light on important questions in the Guatemalan context, and beyond. The large indigenous test score gap is not explained by differences in an extensive list of observable features of schools. The large effect for community characteristics suggests peer group effects or more general institutional differences related to services or labor markets. PRONADE community schools are associated with moderate gains vis-à-vis public schools in areas related to utilization of capacity, such as days worked. But these gains are largely offset by lower teacher capacity, which highlights the challenge of improving school quality in poor, rural areas.

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