Stephanie Majerowicz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at briq. She received her PhD in May 2019 from Harvard University. Her research currently focuses on understanding how to improve the quality of education in Latin America, and how to strengthen local government institutions in developing countries. In her research, she collaborates with the Governments of Peru and Colombia to design and implement experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of national programs and policies on student learning outcomes.
Majerowicz, S. & Montero, R. Can teaching be taught?: Experimental evidence from a teacher coaching program in Peru.
Despite the massive worldwide increase in school enrollment over the past 50 years, many students are not learning. Teacher quality—a key determinant of student achievement—remains low in many countries, and while governments invest heavily on teacher training programs, the evidence on their impact is inconclusive. Development economists, skeptical of teacher training, have instead largely focused on incentive programs. We present novel evidence on the impact of a national teacher coaching programin Peru using an at-scale randomized controlled trial. The programprovided teachers in rural primary schools with individualized, continuous coaching on pedagogical practices. Coaching substantially improved learning: students in treatment schools experienced a 0.25-0.38 standard deviation increase in standardized test scores relative to the control group. The gains are observed throughout the test score distribution, with low-performing students benefitting as much as higher performing ones.Using a combination of experimental and non-experimental techniques to account for teacher rotation, we show that the program effects persist for at least one year after the training ends. Interestingly, the impact observed is entirely due to and retained by the trained teacher—schoolsthat lose trained teachers lose the entire initial gains and, when treated teachers move, students benefit from the arrival of the trained teacher as much as students in the original school did. This suggests that the program is buildingup the human capital of teachers, rather than simply monitoring teacher presence or effort, and that this human capital is portable and persistent. Our results have important policy implications. We find that teacher training programs can indeed be impactful and cost-effective but, given the high level of teacher movement, individual schools may underinvest in teacher training thereby underscoring the need for public subsidies of such training.
Majerowicz, S. Decentralization in public service provision: evidence from a natural experiment in the education sector in Colombia.
There is a long-standing debate on whether the decentralization of government services improves the quality of their delivery. This paper exploits a natural experiment in Colombia whereby the administration of the education sector was decentralized to municipalities with populations over 100,000. By comparing municipalities above and below this threshold through a regression discontinuity design,I am able to estimate the effect of administrative decentralization on learning outcomes in public schools. I find that for those municipalities close to the cutoff, decentralization has a negative impact on student learningmeasured through performance on the high school exit exam. In order to understand mechanisms, I undertakea case study of the decentralization process in La Guajira, a regioncharacterized bylow institutional capacity that due tomismanagement of its resources recently lost administrative control ofits education sector.Through interviews corroborated by administrative data, I find that decentralization impacts education through various channels, including the ability and the incentives to appointqualifiedteachers, assign resources, contract with private providers and monitor schools.
To what extent can preschool education improve early learning outcomes and narrow socioeconomic gaps in academic performance in developing countries? This paper exploits within family variation in exposure to preschool due to its gradual expansion across Peru to estimate the effect of two types of preschools on earlylearning outcomes. I find that having access to a regular preschool improves secondgrade standardized test scores by 0.09 and 0.1 SD for reading comprehension and mathematics respectively, but find no impact of having access to a community preschool—where a local mother provides the service for students in her community—on test scores. Thetwopreschool modalities are assigned to towns based on the number of preschool-aged students in each town. I exploit discontinuities in thisassignment rule to explorethe causal impact of being assigned one typeof preschool over the otherthrough a regression discontinuity design. Ifind that for students in towns near the cut-off, being assigned a pre-school with a trained teacher and proper infrastructure has a positive impact on student learning. Finally, I find that having access to preschool is less beneficial for poor students, suggesting thatpreschool alone is not sufficient for closing socioeconomic gaps in early achievement and complementary measures targeting the poorest students are necessary.
Moss, T. & Majerowicz, S. No longer poor: Ghana’s new income status and implications of graduation from IDA.
Ghana’s largest and most important creditor for the past three decades has been the International Development Association (IDA), the soft loan window of the World Bank. That will soon come to an end. The combination of Ghana’s rapid economic growth and the recent GDP rebasing exercise means that Ghana suddenly finds itself above the income limit for IDA eligibility. Formal graduation is imminent and comes with significant implications for access to concessional finance, debt, and relations with other creditors. This paper considers the specific questions related to Ghana’s relationship with the World Bank, as well as the broader questions about the country’s new middle-income status.
Gelb, A. & Majerowicz, S. Oil for Uganda – or Ugandans? Can cash transfers prevent the resource curse?
In 2009, commercially exploitable reserves of oil were found in the Albertine Lakes Basin in Uganda. Along with a number of new oil exporters, Uganda now faces the challenge of using the new resources to advance its development agenda, while avoiding the corrosive effects oil often has on governance. This paper considers the tradeoffs and potential impact of alternative uses of the oil rent. It argues that alternative approaches towards absorbing rents should be judged from two perspectives – the direct impact on growth and living standards, and the indirect effect on governance. The Ugandan authorities favor using the oil revenues to build much-needed infrastructure; while this could have very large benefits, evidence of Uganda’s already deteriorating governance and mounting corruption raise questions about its capacity to wisely invest the oil revenues. This paper considers an alternative — distributing oil rents to the population through cash transfers — as a potential tool to mitigate some of the governance risks associated with oil revenues by giving Ugandan citizens a stake in their own resource wealth, and considers the strengths and limitations of such an approach.