This RCT is designed to evaluate the impacts on the subject knowledge and pedagogical practices of teachers of 9th and 10th grade math and science, and on student learning, of Nepal's School Sector Development Program (SSDP) teacher training (TT). The main teacher training (TT) intervention requires all 9th and 10th grade teachers in government schools to attend government-run in-service teacher training modules that are intended to raise their subject knowledge and to motivate and equip them to use practical, demonstration-based teaching methods rather than more traditional teaching methods. The training includes a 10-day session at an Education Training Center (ETC), and then completion by participating teachers of the equivalent of five days of “self-study project work,” which includes independent lesson plan development and other classroom research and practice activities. The TT intervention in study schools differs slightly from the broader intervention to be rolled out throughout Nepal over the next several years in several respects. First, rather than waiting for teachers and schools to request trainings, the ETCs specifically invited teachers in treatment schools, and were asked not to invite teachers in control schools or other schools within the same small geographic areas (associated with the local Village Development Committees) as the control schools. Second, while in the broader roll-out priority will be given to inviting teachers with permanent positions who had not received training under the previous education plan (the School Sector Reform Program or SSRP), ETCs were requested to invite all teachers of grade 9 and 10 math and science, regardless of contract type or previous training experience. Third, while in principle the full SSDP training will include two modules, each including 10 days of training at an ETC and five days of self-study project work, in practice only the first module has so far been rolled out, and only this first module is included in this evaluation.
The supplementary Video Assignment (VA) treatment requires each trained teacher to submit (before he or she can receive full credit for the training) a video of himself or herself (during an entire class session) implementing one of the new lesson plans that he or she is expected to create as part of the self-study project. The aim of adding the VA is to increase teachers’ motivation for investing serious effort in the self-study project activities, which may be important for translating what teachers learn at the ETC into new and improved classroom practices. In what follows, “TT treatment” will refer to the provision of the basic teacher training intervention without the video assignment, while “TTVA treatment” will refer to the provision of the teacher training intervention with the video assignment.
The study involves 204 schools, of which 102 are randomly assigned to the treatment and 102 serves as controls. Of the 102 assigned to the treatment, 51 are randomly assigned to the standard TT program, while the other 51 are randomly assigned to the TT supplemented by the Video Assignment (VA) treatment.