Randomised Control Trial (RCT): Year Three

The Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP)—formerly Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL)—is a public private partnership with eight non state actors designed to improve school management in order to bring about improved learning outcomes for students across the government school system. 

In parallel, the Ministry of Education commissioned a three year Randomised Control Trial (RCT) – conducted by the Center for Global Development and Innovations for Poverty Actiondesigned to study and measure whether LEAP improves learning outcomes. 

The final report year three report showed significantly improved learning outcomes.

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Key finding

  • A gold standard three year RCT found that students in Bridge-supported schools had the equivalent of 2.5 years of additional learning.

Further findings

  • Overall, learning increased by 0.26 standard deviations (SD’s) in English and 0.35 SD’s in maths; combined this equates to more than a year of additional learning.
  • Of the eight providers, three did not improve learning outcomes whereas five significantly improved outcomes; the five providers treatment effects are up to five times more than the average.
  • The cost of the program has substantially decreased and is now now being delivered for $119/child a year; close to the government budget of $100/child.
  • Only one-third of the original students remains at the LEAP schools, after three years.
  • School environments are safer for girls and that reporting of abuse has increased.

To Note: The RCT analyses learning outcomes of children by answering two distinct research questions. Intention-To-Treat (ITT) estimates the treatment effect of a child being assigned to a LEAP school in 2015-16. Treatment-On-Treated (TOT) estimates the treatment effect of a child having being taught at the school. ITT includes all children originally included in the study irrespective of whether they whether they continued to attend a LEAP school, dropped out of school entirely or migrated with their families over the three-year period. The latter group (TOT) only includes those children that spent some time at a LEAP school. Using ITT changes the research question from “what was the effect of the treatment? (which TOT aims to answer)” to the quite different question “what was the effect of being assigned to the group that was supposed to receive the treatment?” Bridge refers to TOT data in its analysis.