Gabriella Sicilia | Autonomous Univ of Madrid

Although impact evaluation is the mainstream for evaluating educational programmes targeted at individual level, when programmes are intended for organisations or production units it also becomes relevant to measure efficiency and total factor productivity differences among schools. Surprisingly to date in the economics of education, both fields of research, impact evaluation and production frontiers, run as parallel lines of research with no relationship, or very little, between them. In this work, we propose not only to compare the final average results between treated and control schools to evaluate the causal impact of an intervention, but also to analyse how a treatment implemented in the schools can influence their production activity. This strategy proposes to measure Total Factor Productivity Change (due to efficiency and/or technology changes), through the estimation of a by-group Malmquist Index. Using a Monte-Carlo analysis we simulate different treatments to show how production frontiers can contribute to enhance the traditional impact evaluation. Our results show that successful policies in raising schools’ productivity can be hidden if we only consider mean output differences between the treated and the control groups. In these cases, the treatment effects are better measured regarding total factor productivity changes because it allows us to detect best practices. Even when we find significant impacts on the average output, this approach allows policymakers to reveal the channels through which the intervention operates.

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