Strengthening School Management in a School Reopening Context. Evidence from Peru

Last registered on April 14, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Strengthening School Management in a School Reopening Context. Evidence from Peru
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007955
Initial registration date
July 14, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 15, 2021, 10:10 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
April 14, 2022, 11:38 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
The World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
The World Bank
PI Affiliation
The World Bank

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-05-01
End date
2022-06-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Many developing countries have faced prolonged closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent evidence has shown that school closures during a public health crisis can cause short-term detrimental effects on students’ achievement (Bandiera et al 2020; Archibong and Annan 2020). School closures can also be negatively associated with students’ outcomes in the long term. Estimations indicate that the average current student might expect around 3% lower career earnings, under the most optimistic scenario in which schools immediately returned to 2019 performance levels (Hanushek and Woessmann, 2020).

The quality of school leadership and the practices that school leaders implement are potentially important areas of intervention that can help mitigate the negative and long-lasting effects of school closures and prepare for the process of school reopening. Prior work has documented a positive relationship between the quality of day-to-day school management practices and student outcomes (Bloom et al. 2015, Dobbie and Fryer 2015, Fryer 2017, Leaver et al, 2019, Lemos et al, 2021) and also shown that school leaders “matter” (Coelli and Green, 2011; Lavy and Boiko, 2017; Walsh and Dotter, 2020; Munoz and Prem, 2020).

Considering the relevance of effective school leadership in episodes of crisis, this project aims to rigorously explore the impact of school operations management on students’ outcomes and the mechanisms explaining these results. The project takes place in Peru, a country with important underlying weaknesses in school management.

The project includes two components. First, it experimentally evaluates the impact of a training program designed by the NGO Global School Leaders and adapted to the local context. The program aims to increase school attendance and reduce the dropout rate in a school reopening context through an improvement of principals’ skills related to school organization and communication with teachers and parents. It also aims to improve principals' mental health. Specifically, the intervention attempts to indirectly improve teachers’ motivation and performance and to change parents’ (and teachers’) perception of risk in sending their children back to school by training and supporting school principals' school operational management practices.

Second, the project also aims to elicit the principal's preferences for safe reopening, in addition to training needs. To our knowledge, there is no data on what elements are essential to principals for the (voluntary or mandatory) reopening decision. By using a discrete choice experiment (DCE), we aim to obtain causal evidence on principals' preferences and valuation of elements for the school reopening decision.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Avitabile, Ciro, Lelys Dinarte and Renata Lemos. 2022. "Strengthening School Management in a School Reopening Context. Evidence from Peru." AEA RCT Registry. April 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7955
Sponsors & Partners

Sponsors

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
This project includes two main components. In the first one, we study the intervention Leadership for Renewal (LFR). It consists of a training program developed by the NGO Global School Leaders (GSL) that aims to enable school principals to lead effectively through this crisis, beginning with preparing for school re-opening. The LFR baseline program aims to directly affect school organization and structural communication with parents.

The research team worked with GSL to ensure the program is adapted to the local context and more focused on modules that will improve school organization in coordination with guidance from health authorities and improve communication with parents in a consistent and structured manner. In this sense, the adjusted program includes a total of six mentor-led sessions and three learning circles. The mentor-led sessions are the following: (i) leadership for wellbeing, (ii) community support, (iii) preparing the school for reopening, (iv) preparing staff for reopening, (v) ITC tools for management, (vi) tools for communication.

The intervention will follow a cascade approach. As the first step, in coordination with GSL and The Varkey Foundation, a number of local staff (UGEL specialists) will be trained to become program coaches. Then, these trained coaches will deliver the training to the group of principals working in schools that will be assigned to the treatment group. The content will be delivered through intensive virtual workshops aimed at building school principals’ skills for improving teaching and learning. All sessions will be covered in approximately 2 weeks. Then, during the learning circles, principals will be able to discuss their reopening plans, particularly those related to school organization and communication with families. Each learning circle has a duration of 1 hour.

In the second component, we collect data to understand what additional elements, in addition to training, might be also important for the reopening decision. Eliciting the principal's preferences for safe reopening is challenging due to data limitations and identification issues. To our knowledge, there is no data on what elements are essential to principals for the (voluntary or mandatory) reopening decision. Moreover, we can only see the realization of the decision and the conditions each principal faced ex-post, which makes it challenging to provide any causal claims. To overcome this, we design a discrete choice experiment (DCE) using vignettes for the reopening decision. Obtaining causal evidence on principals' preferences on elements for the decision of school reopening and how they value these elements, in terms of additional budget for the reopening, will help better inform how the MoE in Peru can efficiently mobilize financial resources for a safe and effective school reopening process.
Intervention Start Date
2021-05-28
Intervention End Date
2021-09-10

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
At the school level: Probability of reopening.
At the course level: school attendance.
At the principal level: mental health, communication and management skills, socio-emotional skills
At the teacher level: attendance, mental health.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
At the principal level: expectations/beliefs, perceptions of and preferences for risk, and determinants for the reopening decision.
At the teacher level: expectations/beliefs, perceptions of risk, and perceptions about principals' communication and management skills.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
For the first component, we use a sample of 2,005 schools, we have randomly assigned them to the following groups:
- Treatment group (T): 1,123 schools will be randomly allocated to receive the training from the UGEL specialists. They will also participate in an intensive data collection activity.
- Control (C): 580 schools will be randomly assigned to a control group. They will not receive the training from the UGEL specialists but will participate in the intensive data collection activity.
- Pure control (PC): To address concerns about the Hawthorne effects--that is, principals and teachers can change their behavior in terms of how they report the data due to the intensity of the data collection process--we will randomly assign 302 schools to a pure control group that will neither receive the training nor will report any data. From these schools, we will collect administrative data on their reopening status.

For the second component, we plan to work with a sample of 1775 school principals distributed across eights regions in Peru from which we have phone numbers. To identify relevant elements for the reopening decision, we conducted five focus groups with 16 principals in January 2022. We found a total of 7 characteristics that are relevant for them: (1) the need for an additional budget for hygiene and cleaning kits, (2) the number of COVID cases in the district, (3) networks (if other principals have reopened), (4) adequacy of school for social distancing and hygiene, (5) liability for reopening, (6) training, and (7) UGEL support.

Using these characteristics, we created vignettes. Each vignette is a hypothetical setting for the reopening with a specific value for each of the seven features. Two vignettes constitute a choice set. We decided to vary only three of the characteristics between the two vignettes. The other four are held constant. Thus, we have a total of 10 groups of varying attributes. Then, following Datta (2019), we created a total of 180 choice sets (with two vignettes each), that is, 12 sets (24 vignettes) by a group of varying attributes. Each school principal will be presented with a total of 10 choices, each of them will be randomly selected from every group of varying attributes. To reduce cognitive burden, the varying attributes will be highlighted.
Experimental Design Details
For the first component, we use a sample of 2,005 schools, we have randomly assigned them to the following groups:
- Treatment group (T): 1,123 schools will be randomly allocated to receive the training from the UGEL specialists. They will also participate in an intensive data collection activity.
- Control (C): 580 schools will be randomly assigned to a control group. They will not receive the training from the UGEL specialists but will participate in the intensive data collection activity.
- Pure control (PC): To address concerns about the Hawthorne effects--that is, principals and teachers can change their behavior in terms of how they report the data due to the intensity of the data collection process--we will randomly assign 302 schools to a pure control group that will neither receive the training nor will report any data. From these schools, we will collect administrative data on their reopening status.

For the second component, we plan to work with a sample of 1775 school principals distributed across eights regions in Peru from which we have phone numbers. To identify relevant elements for the reopening decision, we conducted five focus groups with 16 principals in January 2022. We found a total of 7 characteristics that are relevant for them: (1) the need for an additional budget for hygiene and cleaning kits, (2) the number of COVID cases in the district, (3) networks (if other principals have reopened), (4) adequacy of school for social distancing and hygiene, (5) liability for reopening, (6) training, and (7) UGEL support.

Using these characteristics, we created vignettes. Each vignette is a hypothetical setting for the reopening with a specific value for each of the seven features. Two vignettes constitute a choice set. We decided to vary only three of the characteristics between the two vignettes. The other four are held constant. Thus, we have a total of 10 groups of varying attributes. Then, following Datta (2019), we created a total of 180 choice sets (with two vignettes each), that is, 12 sets (24 vignettes) by a group of varying attributes. Each school principal will be presented with a total of 10 choices, each of them will be randomly selected from every group of varying attributes. To reduce cognitive burden, the varying attributes will be highlighted.
Randomization Method
Randomization of the treatment assignment and allocation of vignettes will be done in-office by a computer using a self-coded script developed by the researchers.
Randomization Unit
The randomization unit will be schools for the first component and principals for the second component.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2,005 schools in the first component, 1,775 principals in the second component
Sample size: planned number of observations
Principals: 2,005 for the first component, and 1775 for the second component. Teachers: 4,010
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,123 schools training
580 schools control group
302 schools pure control group

All 1775 principals will be "treated" with an allocation of 10 vignettes in the DCE.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With this sample size, we expect to identify an MDE of 0.078SD for the training program and 0.09SD for the Hawthorne effect.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Human Subjects Committee for Innovations for Poverty Action IRB-USA
IRB Approval Date
2021-05-21
IRB Approval Number
15718

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