Stemming Learning Loss During the Pandemic: A Rapid Randomized Trial of a Low-Tech Interventions In Botswana

Last registered on June 29, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Stemming Learning Loss During the Pandemic: A Rapid Randomized Trial of a Low-Tech Interventions In Botswana
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006044
Initial registration date
June 25, 2020
Last updated
June 29, 2020, 11:20 AM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Columbia University Teachers College

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Young 1ove
PI Affiliation
Young 1ove
PI Affiliation
Oxford; World Bank; Young 1ove

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-04-30
End date
2021-01-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
With over 1.5 billion learners out of school, the COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed education systems worldwide. This necessitates new education models, including the use of education technology for distance learning. Many efforts to date have focused on higher-technology solutions, such as internet-based smart phone applications. We evaluate two ‘low-tech’ solutions that leverage text-messages and text-messages and direct phone calls to parents to empower them to educate their children in the household. These low-tech solutions have unique potential to reach the masses. While only 15-60% of households in low- and middle-income countries have internet access, 70-90% of households own at least one mobile phone. We run a large-scale trial with 4,500 parent and student phone numbers in Botswana representing half of the regions in the nation. We collect outcomes at one-month intervals. This frequency enables rapid assessment and sharing of results. Results aim to be relevant to both in the present crisis as well as during future school closures, and inform the role of parents and technology more broadly as substitutes rather than complements of the traditional education institution, schools, for human capital accumulation.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Angrist, Noam et al. 2020. "Stemming Learning Loss During the Pandemic: A Rapid Randomized Trial of a Low-Tech Interventions In Botswana." AEA RCT Registry. June 29. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6044-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-05-04
Intervention End Date
2020-09-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcome is performance on a version of the ASER test.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Our secondary outcomes are performance on the individual items of the test. We will then measure also measure the number of hours parents spent engaging in educational activities in a week (described further below), parents’ perceptions of their child’s academic performance, whether families listened to educational radio.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The intervention was randomized at the household level to either SMS only, SMS+phone calls or a control group. After week 4, half the sample was assessed, and assigned content targeted to each student's level (delivered in accordance to their original treatment assignment--SMS or SMS+phone--the control still received no instructional content). Randomization was stratified by whether or not the student had participated in the Teaching at the Right Level program prior to the study.
Experimental Design Details
We will analyze outcomes using a simple regression with indicators for each treatment arm, controlling for the strata and using robust standard errors. We will discretize hours of engagement into 0 to 6+ and don't know, and run a chi2 test on the distribution for each treatment arm versus the control. We will also study the effect on 1hrs+ and the continuous measure, though we anticipate the latter will be noisy and will focus on the discretized measures. We will study gender as a subgroup.
Randomization Method
Office by computer
Randomization Unit
Household
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
4500 families.
Sample size: planned number of observations
4500
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately 1500.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Teachers College IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-05-06
IRB Approval Number
20-299 Protocol
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials