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Improving Aspirations, Educational Attainment and Health through Peer Educators and Networks
Initial registration date
January 14, 2019
January 21, 2019 4:24 PM EST
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Other Primary Investigator(s)
World Bank Research Group
Imperial College London
Additional Trial Information
One in four births in the Brazilian state of Bahia are from women between the ages of 15 and 19. These teenage pregnancies result in high school dropout rates. This evaluation will experimentally measure the impact of a peer-led high school program designed to prevent teenage pregnancies and help students complete high school. The intervention entails increasing aspirations, encouraging educational attainment, building self-esteem and providing information about reproductive health, so as to help pupils set their life goals. From a sample of 135 high schools in the state capital, 90 are randomly selected to receive the program. Training is provided to teams of peer educators who then disseminate the information in their schools. We experimentally measure the effectiveness of three peer educator selection strategies: (1) most connected in terms of network centrality; (2) most popular or “cool” as identified by a student survey and (3) nomination by school staff.
Dias, Pedro, Eliana La Ferrara and Victor Orozco. 2019. "Improving Aspirations, Educational Attainment and Health through Peer Educators and Networks." AEA RCT Registry. January 21.
The intervention has two stages. In the first stage, teams of 6 pupils per school are selected and trained to become “peer educators”. They are taught a life skills curriculum that aims to prevent teenage pregnancy by providing information on reproductive health, increasing aspirations, building self-esteem, encouraging educational attainment and helping pupils set life goals. In the second stage, each team of peer educators will implement dissemination activities to pass on these life skills to their school colleagues, with the support of a teacher.
The success of this intervention hinges on the quality of the team of “peer educators” (PEs) in each school. The research team worked with the Brazilian government and school staff in order to adopt, in different schools, three alternative selection criteria for their respective dissemination teams: (i) the first criterion uses information from a social network survey administered to all students in the sampled schools; it selects as peer educators the most connected individuals based on eigenvector centrality; (ii) the second criterion is also based on the social network survey but selects the individuals that are most often nominated by the other pupils in the school as being the “coolest” or most popular amongst them; (iii) finally, the third criterion leaves it to the teachers in each school to select their team of peer educators, according to the pupils’ attendance record, academic merit and perceived leadership skills.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- school performance, grade progression, and dropouts
- self-reported behavior related to contraception relationships and pregnancy
- expectations and aspirations related to education, marriage and fertility
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- knowledge and attitudes related to contraception, relationships and pregnancy
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We address the following research questions:
1. Can a peer-led life skills program focused on reproductive health and goal setting improve educational attainment, self-esteem, and aspirations of high school students, and at the same time decrease teenage pregnancy rates? Finally, does the impact of this intervention differ between female and male pupils? 2. What selection criterion of peer educators maximizes the impact of the program?
To address these questions, 135 state schools in Salvador are randomized into three treatment groups of 30 schools each and one control group of 45 schools. Pupils in the treatment arms receive exactly the same intervention, but the criteria informing the selection of peer educators is different. We denote the three treatment arms as: T1 - Life Skills, most connected pupils are PEs; T2 - Life Skills, most popular pupils are Pes; T3 - Life Skills, school staff select PEs. Control schools will not receive any intervention related to teenage pregnancy and life skills outside of the standard curriculum in Bahia.
The random allocation of schools to treatment and control arms is stratified on school size (as measured by the number of pupils) and pre-existing female dropout rates (from 2015 official data). Furthermore, the sample was stratified by gender in order to estimate heterogeneous effects on males and females.
Experimental Design Details
randomization done in office by a computer
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
45 schools (2,700 pupils) control; 30 schools (1,800 pupils) T1 - Life Skills, most connected pupils are peer educators (PEs); 30 schools (1,800 pupils) T2 - Life Skills, most popular pupils are Pes; 30 schools (1,800 pupils) T3 - Life Skills, school staff select PEs
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We calculated minimum detectable effects (MDEs) for the overall intervention and for individual treatment arms. Assuming a significance level of 0.05 and 80% power, our calculated MDEs on the probability of dropout are: for the life skills intervention - 0.10 SDs for females and 0.11 SDs for males; for the individual treatment arms - 0.12 SDs for females and 0.14 for males.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
CENTRO UNIVERSITÁRIO ESTÁCIO DA BAHIA - ESTÁCIO FIB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number