Evans, David K.
Africa Chief Economist’s Office
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Education, Social Development
Africa Chief Economist’s Office
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated July 27, 2023
Bio: David is a Lead Economist in the Chief Economist's Office for the Africa Region of the World Bank. He coordinates impact evaluation work across sectors for the Africa Region. In the past, he worked as Senior Economist in the Human Development Department in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank, and as an economist designing and implementing impact evaluations in Africa. He has designed and implemented impact evaluations in agriculture, education, health, and social protection, in Brazil, the Gambia, Kenya, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. He has taught economic development at the Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, and he holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 18
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-06) Holland, Peter ; Alfaro, Pablo ; Evans, David K.Countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean are reforming their education systems with the view of adding more hours to the school day. This paper examines the existing evidence on the relationship between instructional time and student learning, and reviews 15 studies measuring the effects of longer school days. It draws on examples throughout the region to characterize differences in the implementation of extended school day programs, and provides one detailed case study and cost-effectiveness exercise (for Uruguay). While the evidence suggests positive impacts across a range of outcome variables, including gains in student learning, reductions in repetition and dropout, and reductions in teenage pregnancy, there is considerable heterogeneity across programs and studies. Even using the most optimistic impact estimates, a cost-effectiveness exercise suggests that there are likely many more cost-effective reforms to achieve similar effects. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for policy makers and practitioners considering an extension of the school day.
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-02) Evans, David K. ; Popova, AnnaThe 2014 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa is the largest to date by far. Ebola Virus Disease causes disproportionate mortality among the working-age population, resulting in far more mortality for parents of young children than other health crises. This paper combines data on the age distribution of current and projected mortality from Ebola with the fertility distribution of adults in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, to estimate the likely impact of the epidemic on the number of orphans in these three countries. Using the latest mortality estimates (from February 11, 2015), it is estimated that more than 9,600 children have lost one or both parents to Ebola Virus Disease. The absolute numbers of orphans created by the Ebola epidemic are significant, but represent a small fraction (1.4 percent) of the existing orphan burden in the affected countries. Ebola is unlikely to increase the numbers of orphans beyond extended family networks' capacities to absorb them. Nonetheless, the pressures of caring for increased numbers of orphans may result in lower quality of care. These estimates should be used to guide policy to support family networks to improve the capacity to provide high quality care to orphans.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-04) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Evans, David ; Lahire, NathalieEducation systems in developing countries are often centrally managed in a top-down structure. In environments where schools have different needs and where localized information plays an important role, empowerment of the local community may be attractive, but low levels of human capital at the local level may offset gains from local information. This paper reports the results of a four-year, large-scale experiment that provided a grant and comprehensive school management training to principals, teachers, and community representatives in a set of schools. To separate the effect of the training from the grant, a second set of schools received the grant only with no training. A third set of schools served as a control group and received neither intervention. Each of 273 Gambian primary schools were randomized to one of the three groups. The program was implemented through the government education system. Three to four years into the program, the full intervention led to a 21 percent reduction in student absenteeism and a 23 percent reduction in teacher absenteeism, but produced no impact on student test scores. The effect of the full program on learning outcomes is strongly mediated by baseline local capacity, as measured by adult literacy. This result suggests that, in villages with high literacy, the program may yield gains on students learning outcomes. Receiving the grant alone had no impact on either test scores or student participation.
What Really Works to Improve Learning in Developing Countries?: An Analysis of Divergent Findings in Systematic Reviews(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-02) Evans, David K. ; Popova, AnnaIn the past two years alone, at least six systematic reviews or meta-analyses have examined the interventions that improve learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. However, these reviews have sometimes reached starkly different conclusions: reviews, in turn, recommend information technology, interventions that provide information about school quality, or even basic infrastructure (such as desks) to achieve the greatest improvements in student learning. This paper demonstrates that these divergent conclusions are largely driven by differences in the samples of research incorporated by each review. The top recommendations in a given review are often driven by the results of evaluations not included in other reviews. Of 227 studies with student learning results, the most inclusive review incorporates less than half of the total studies. Variance in classification also plays a role. Across the reviews, the three classes of programs that are recommended with some consistency (albeit under different names) are pedagogical interventions (including computer-assisted learning) that tailor teaching to student skills; repeated teacher training interventions, often linked to another pedagogical intervention; and improving accountability through contracts or performance incentives, at least in certain contexts. Future reviews will be most useful if they combine narrative review with meta-analysis, conduct more exhaustive searches, and maintain low aggregation of intervention categories.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Loureiro, Andre ; Cruz, Louisee ; Lautharte, Ildo ; Evans, David K.This report presents the case of the state of Ceara in Brazil that overcame adverse socioeconomic conditions to substantially improve education outcomes with efficient use of resources. Despite having the 5th lowest GDP per capita among the 26 Brazilian states, the 9-million-inhabitant state of Ceara has experienced the largest increase in the national education quality index in both primary and lower secondary education since 2005, with 10 municipalities of Ceara being among the top 20 national ranking, including Sobral which has the highest score. The state of Ceara pioneered the use of results-based financing as part of a comprehensive education reform program that among other elements included strong support to its municipalities to achieve universal literacy by the end of grade 2. The reforms allowed the state to considerably improve learning levels of students in primary and lower secondary education with a high level of efficiency in the use of resources. The main aspects of the reforms are presented and discussed.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07) Evans, David K. ; Yuan, FeiDespite dramatic global gains in access to education, 130 million girls of school age remain out of school. Among those who do enter, too many do not gain the essential skills to succeed after they complete their schooling. Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls' latrines or girls' scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions -- those that benefit both girls and boys -- significantly improve girls' education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms. This review brings together evidence from 270 educational interventions from 177 studies in 54 low- and middle-income countries and identifies their impacts on girls, regardless of whether the interventions specifically target girls. The review finds that to improve access and learning, general interventions deliver gains for girls that are comparable to girl-targeted interventions. At the same time, many more general interventions have been tested, providing a broader menu of options for policy makers. General interventions have similar impacts for girls as for boys. Many of the most effective interventions to improve access for girls are household-based (such as cash transfer programs), and many of the most effective interventions to improve learning for girls involve improving the pedagogy of teachers. Girl-targeted interventions may make the most sense when addressing constraints that are unique to girls.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-02-01) Evans, David K.Education systems around the world are investing in technology to help teachers be more effective. In some cases, the results are exciting. In others, the impact of technology falls short of expectations or remains unevaluated. The closing of schools worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding how to leverage technology well. This note lays out four principles for investing in technology for effective teachers and six aspects of teaching where technology can boost teacher performance, together with examples of tested, promising, and cautionary experiences with teacher technologies.
How to Improve Education Outcomes Most Efficiently? A Comparison of 150 Interventions Using the New Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling Metric(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Angrist, Noam ; Evans, David K. ; Filmer, Deon ; Glennerster, Rachel ; Rogers, F. Halsey ; Sabarwal, ShwetlenaMany low- and middle-income countries lag far behind high-income countries in educational access and student learning. Limited resources mean that policymakers must make tough choices about which investments to make to improve education. Although hundreds of education interventions have been rigorously evaluated, making comparisons between the results is challenging. Some studies report changes in years of schooling; others report changes in learning. Standard deviations, the metric typically used to report learning gains, measure gains relative to a local distribution of test scores. This metric makes it hard to judge if the gain is worth the cost in absolute terms. This paper proposes using learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) -- which combines access and quality and compares gains to an absolute, cross-country standard -- as a new metric for reporting gains from education interventions. The paper applies LAYS to compare the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness, where cost is available) of interventions from 150 impact evaluations across 46 countries. The results show that some of the most cost-effective programs deliver the equivalent of three additional years of high-quality schooling (that is, schooling at quality comparable to the highest-performing education systems) for just $100 per child -- compared with zero years for other classes of interventions.
The Skills Balancing Act in Sub-Saharan Africa: Investing in Skills for Productivity, Inclusivity, and Adaptability(Washington, DC: World Bank and Agence française de développement, 2019-06-10) Arias, Omar ; Evans, David K. ; Santos, IndhiraSub-Saharan Africa has the youngest population of any region of the world, and that growing working-age population represents a major opportunity to reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity. But the region’s workforce is the least skilled in the world, constraining economic prospects. Despite economic growth, declining poverty, and investments in skills-building, too many students in too many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are not acquiring the foundational skills they need to thrive and prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy. This report examines the balancing act that individuals and countries face in making productive investments in both a wide range of skills – cognitive, socio-emotional, and technical – and a wide range of groups – young children through working adults – so that Sub-Saharan Africa will thrive.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-09) Popova, Anna ; Evans, David K. ; Arancibia, VioletaA significant body of research demonstrates that teachers and the quality of their teaching are crucial components of student learning. Many teachers in resource-poor environments have limited knowledge, skills, or motivation. Some impact evaluations have shown promising results from interventions to improve the quality of teaching. This paper reviews the existing body of evidence on what kinds of in-service teacher training interventions are most effective, and highlights the knowledge gaps. It reveals the dearth of detail on the nature of teacher training interventions and proposes a standard set of indicators -- the In-Service Teacher Training Survey Instrument—for reporting on such programs as a prerequisite for understanding which interventions lead to improved student learning. Across a set of 26 programs with impact evaluations and student learning results, programs that provide complementary materials, focus on a specific subject, and include follow-up visits tend to show higher gains. Programs that use non-education professionals as trainers tend to have worse outcomes. Statistical power to identify these effects is limited, and use of these standard indicators in future impact evaluations will facilitate more precise inference.