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Reading1 - Monitoring Works Getting Teachers to Come to...

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Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School * Esther Duflo, Rema Hanna, and Stephen Ryan 21st November 2007 Abstract This paper combines a randomized experiment and a structural model to test whether moni- toring and financial incentives can reduce teacher absence and increase learning. In 57 schools in India, randomly chosen out of 113, a teacher’s daily attendance was verified through photographs with time and date stamps, and his salary was made a non-linear function of his attendance. The teacher absence rate changed from 42 percent in the comparison schools to 21 percent in the treatment schools. To separate the effects of the monitoring and the financial incentives, we estimate a structural dynamic labor supply model that allows for heterogeneity in preferences and auto-correlation of external shocks. The teacher response was almost entirely due to the financial incentives. The estimated elasticity of labor with respect to the incentive is 0.306. Our model accurately predicts teacher attendance in two out-of-sample tests on the comparison group and a treatment group that received different financial incentives. The program improved child learning: test scores in the treatment schools were 0.17 standard deviations higher than in the comparison schools. * This project is a collaborative exercise involving many people. Foremost, we are deeply indebted to Seva Mandir, and especially to Neelima Khetan and Priyanka Singh, who made this evaluation possible. We thank Ritwik Sakar and Ashwin Vasan for their excellent work coordinating the fieldwork. Greg Fischer, Shehla Imran, Callie Scott, Konrad Menzel, and Kudzaishe Takavarasha provided superb research assistance. For their helpful comments, we thank Abhijit Banerjee, Rachel Glennerster, Michael Kremer and Sendhil Mullainathan. For financial support, we thank the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The authors are from MIT (Department of Economics and J-PAL) and Paris School of Economics, the Wagner School of Public Service of New York University and J-PAL, and MIT (Department of Economics). 1
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1 Introduction Over the past decade, many developing countries have expanded primary school access. This expansion has been energized by initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call for achieving universal primary education by 2015. However, these improvements in school access have not been accompanied by improvements in school quality. For example, in India, a nationwide survey found that 65 percent of children enrolled in grades 2 through 5 in government primary schools could not read a simple paragraph, and 50 percent could not do simple subtraction or division (Pratham, 2006). These poor learning outcomes may be due, in part, to high absence rates among teachers. Using unannounced visits to measure teacher attendance, a nationally representative survey found that 24 percent of teachers in India were absent from the classroom during normal school hours (Chaudhury, et al., 2005a, b).
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