Arguments for Evaluation

Millennium Villages Project aims to develop and bring clusters of African villages out of poverty.

Without sound evaluation, it simply cannot be known-regardless of what is observed today at MV sites-whether the money devoted to the MVs is accomplishing its goals. An intervention of this scale deserves proper evaluation, which can only make it better as it expands.

A careful evaluation of the MVs would comprise two critical elements. First, long term follow-up is essential. Second, the villages that get the intervention must be compared to villages that do not get it, in such a way that which villages do and don’t get the intervention are randomly picked from an initial group. I will show with real-world examples why these elements are “must have” rather than “nice to have.”

Examples include follow up findings that children in Africa did not learn more in schools with textbooks despite studies implying otherwise, and a 1995-2000 project in Chinese villages that yielded no long term results and ultimately no difference between aid recipient and other villages.

Scalability is incredibly difficult to gauge – the act of setting policy alone is never enough because implementation is where the real work begins.

Relative Elsewhere, an argument for randomized trials.

What is missing is the political demand for tests of what really works. Too many policies on education, welfare and criminal justice are just so much homeopathy: cute-sounding stories about what works leaning more on faith than on evidence.


Filed under: Design, Policies & Agendas

One Response

  1. […] to mind my previous Arguments for Evaluation post on textbook findings in African […]

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