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 - 8 of 8
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-09) Sabarwal, Shwetlena ; Evans, David K. ; Marshak, AnastasiaA textbook provision program in Sierra Leone demonstrates how volatility in the flow of government-provided learning inputs to schools can induce storage of these inputs by school administrators to smooth future consumption. This process in turn leads to low current utilization of inputs for student learning. A randomized trial of a public program providing textbooks to primary schools had modest positive impacts on teacher behavior but no impacts on student performance. In many treatment schools, student access to textbooks did not actually increase because a large majority of the books were stored rather than distributed to students. At the same time, the propensity to save books was positively correlated with uncertainty on the part of head teachers regarding government transfers of books. The evidence suggests that schools that have high uncertainty with respect to future transfers are more likely to store a high proportion of current transfers. These results show that reducing uncertainty in school input flows could result in higher current input use for student learning. For effective program design, public policy programs must take forward-looking behavior among intermediate actors into account.
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-09) Evans, David K. ; Popova, AnnaAs evidence from rigorous impact evaluations grows in development, there have been more calls to complement impact evaluation analysis with cost analysis, so that policy makers can make investment decisions based on costs as well as impacts. This paper discusses important considerations for implementing cost-effectiveness analysis in the policy making process. The analysis is applied in the context of education interventions, although the findings generalize to other areas. First, the paper demonstrates a systematic method for characterizing the sensitivity of impact estimates. Second, the concept of context-specificity is applied to cost measurement: program costs vary greatly across contexts -- both within and across countries -- and with program complexity. The paper shows how adapting a single cost ingredient across settings dramatically shifts cost-effectiveness measures. Third, the paper provides evidence that interventions with fewer beneficiaries tend to have higher per-beneficiary costs, resulting in potential cost overestimates when extrapolating to large-scale applications. At the same time, recall bias may result in cost underestimates. The paper also discusses other challenges in measuring and extrapolating cost-effectiveness measures. For cost-effectiveness analysis to be useful, policy makers will require detailed, comparable, and timely cost reporting, as well as significant effort to ensure costs are relevant to the local environment.
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, 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(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2016-08) Evans, David K. ; Popova, AnnaOver the course of just two years, at least six reviews have examined interventions that seek to improve learning outcomes in developing countries. Although the reviews ostensibly have the same objective, they reach sometimes starkly different conclusions. The first objective of this paper is to identify why reviews diverge in their conclusions and how future reviews can be more effective. The second objective is to identify areas of overlap in the recommendations of existing reviews of what works to improve learning. This paper demonstrates that divergence in the recommendations of learning reviews is largely driven by differences in the samples of research incorporated in each review. Of 229 studies with student learning results, the most inclusive review incorporates less than half of the total studies. Across the reviews, two classes of programs are recommended with some consistency. Pedagogical interventions that tailor teaching to student learning levels—either teacher-led or facilitated by adaptive learning software—are effective at improving student test scores, as are individualized, repeated teacher training interventions often associated with a specific task or tool. 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, 2012) Bruns, Barbara ; Evans, David ; Luque, JavierEducation is improving in Brazil. The average years of education has almost doubled over the last 20 years, as has the proportion of adults who have completed secondary school. Brazil's high school students have improved consistently in math and language performance over the last decade. These gains stem from the federal government's priority attention to education through both reforms and resources over the past 15 years. The progress laid out in this book is impressive and praiseworthy, but Brazil still trails its competitors in several of the ways that matter most. Student learning, while improving, still lags far behind wealthier nations. Many secondary schools lose the majority of their students well before graduation. Teachers are drawn from among the lowest achievers and have few performance incentives, and it shows in how class time is used. This important book explores not only the basis for Brazil's progress, but also what it must do to bridge the remaining quality gap to a first-rate education for its children. It provides detailed recommendations for strengthening the performance of teachers, supporting children's early development, and reforming secondary education. In Brazil's highly decentralized basic education system, each level of government has an integral role to play.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-08) Popova, Anna ; Evans, David K. ; Breeding, Mary E. ; Arancibia, Violeta ; Breeding, Mary E.Teachers, like all professionals, require ongoing professional development opportunities to improve their skills. This paper provides evidence on effective professional development characteristics and how at-scale programs incorporate those characteristics. The authors propose a standard set of 70 indicators—the In-Service Teacher Training Survey Instrument—for reporting on professional development programs as a prerequisite for understanding the characteristics of those programs that improve student learning. The authors apply the instrument to rigorously evaluated professional development programs in low- and middle-income countries. Across 33 programs, those programs that link participation to career incentives, have a specific subject focus, incorporate lesson enactment in the training, and include initial face-to-face training tend to show higher student learning gains. In qualitative interviews, program implementers also report follow-up visits as among the most effective characteristics of their professional development programs. The authors then apply the instruments to a sample of 139 government-funded, at-scale professional development programs across 14 countries. This analysis uncovers a sharp gap between the characteristics of teacher professional development programs that evidence suggests are effective and the global realities of most teacher professional development programs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Adelman, Melissa ; Baron, Juan D. ; Blimpo, Moussa ; Evans, David K. ; Simbou, Atabanam ; Yarrow, Noah ; Yarrow, NoahThe Haitian education system made substantial improvements in access over the last decade, such that today the majority of Haiti’s children are in school. Despite improvements, the primary education system is highly inefficient: children start primary school 2 years late on average, and fewer than 60 percent will reach the last grade of the cycle. At each school, classroom observations were conducted using the Stallings Classroom Snapshot instrument, and questions about the school calendar and daily schedule asked. The results provide a representative picture of class time and teacher classroom practice in the Nord and Nord Est departments, and while not representative of Haiti as a whole, do provide a starting point for better understanding the major constraint to achieving a high-quality education for all children: the quality of teacher instruction. Section two describes the sample of schools and the stallings instrument; sections three and four present the main results of the classroom observations on teacher time use and pedagogical practices; section five provides estimates of overall class time that students receive; and section six concludes.