What takes place in the classroom? Video clips from Young Lives’ Classroom Observation study

Submitted by remote on Fri, 09/07/2018 - 21:10

In 2017-18, Young Lives conducted a Classroom Observation study in India. This built upon earlier Young Lives work on school effectiveness, with the aim of providing more information about what is happening within secondary school classrooms in Young Lives sites in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Who is taught by the ‘most effective’ teachers? Identifying unequal patterns of school effectiveness in India

In the past decade, India has seen a dramatic increase in enrolment at both primary and secondary levels of schooling. Policies introduced as part of the Right to Education Act in 2009 have helped children from all backgrounds to attend school, with the greatest increase in enrolment seen among girls, children from disadvantaged social groups, and those in the poorest households – many of whom are ‘first generation learners’.

Yet alongside this positive trend, studies suggest that the Indian education system is subject to vast inequalities in learning outcomes with some children benefitting from education equal to the best schools in many OECD countries, while others appear to have little chance to learn. With education, and perhaps particularly secondary education, thought to be key to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, this raises real concerns that the already wide inequities found within the school system will continue to deepen over time.

This week we launch two reports which look at some of these issues in more detail. The reports make use of data from two recent Young Lives education studies in India - a large-scale school effectiveness study and a smaller classroom observation sub-study – to explore questions of school and teacher effectiveness, and consider how these relate to underlying patterns of inequality and disadvantage.

Through this analysis, we find that children are ‘sorted’ into more or less ‘effective’ schools according to their background. Using ‘value-added’ [i] analysis of school effectiveness data collected from children in Grade 9 in 2016-17, we find that girls, children from poorer families and those with less educated mothers are more likely to attend schools where less learning takes place. Figure 1 shows this pattern in terms of student socio-economic background, revealing that the poorest children attend schools which, on average, add considerably less value than those schools attended by the least poor children. These differences persist even when we control for variations in student background which may impact on opportunity to learn (this is ‘conditional value-added’, shown in the red bars in Figure 1).

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Figure 1: Mean maths value-added by student wealth quintile

Analysis of data from Young Lives’ 2017-18 Classroom Observation study in India provides further evidence of this trend. Using data on the scores attributed to each teacher using the CLASS observation methodology [ii], we find that teachers categorised as having a low score (i.e. those not found to be demonstrating positive teacher-student interactions) are more likely to teach children from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those with less educated parents or those from poorer families. Figure 2 shows one example of this, revealing that more than 80 per cent of students in classes taught by teachers who have been given a low CLASS score have mothers with no education, compared to just 40 per cent of those taught by those teachers with higher CLASS scores.

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Figure 2: Education level of students' mothers, by teacher CLASS score category

Although we need to remember that issues of confounding in school type, location, and student background data prevent us from inferring too much from these descriptive patterns, these analyses suggest that India’s unequal education system is leading to a ‘double disadvantage’ for some students, who face disadvantage at home and in terms of school quality. This raises real concerns that, rather than challenging existing inequalities and inequities, the education system is instead likely to lead them to deepen over time. Our findings in these reports indicate the importance of identifying policy solutions to address the issue of ‘sorting’ which leads disadvantaged children to attend less good schools, if all children in India are to be given the opportunity to achieve at least a basic level of learning and these inequalities are to be addressed.

This blog highlights some of the findings from two reports published by Young Lives’ education team this week. These are: Young Lives School Survey, 2016-17: Value-added Analysis in India; and Classroom Observation Sub-study, 2017-18: Evidence from India. The analysis discussed in this blog was undertaken in collaboration with Ana Grijalva and Caine Rolleston. For related research findings and updates from Young Lives, please follow us on Twitter @yloxford


[i] Value-added is a measure of student progress over a defined period of time. It is designed to compare ‘like for like’, by looking at student progress compared to other students with a similar starting score. ‘Unconditional value-added’ is estimated using student test scores from the beginning and end of the school year. ‘Conditional value-added’ also includes student background characteristics, to take into account that it may be harder for some students to make progress.
[ii] CLASS is the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. This classroom observation tool was developed by Robert Pianta at the University of Virginia. CLASS has been used in many different countries to measure teacher-student interactions in the classroom; the Young Lives Classroom Observation sub-study is the first time this methodology has been used in the Indian context. For details of the design of the Young Lives’ 2017-18 Classroom Observation sub-study in India, please find our technical note here.

Classroom Observation Sub-Study, 2017-18: Evidence from India

Rhiannon Moore
School effectiveness
Country report

There is considerable evidence for declining levels of learning in India in recent years, despite increased enrolment, declining class size and greater teacher availability, but a lot less is known about the cause of this ‘learning crisis’. In this context, understanding the impact of what effective teachers do in the classroom, and how teachers and students interact with and relate to each other in ways which lead to learning, is of huge importance.

During 2017-18, Young Lives undertook a classroom observation study in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India, with the aim of helping to unlock the ‘black box’ of the education production function and explore some of the classroom factors associated with differences in student learning outcomes. Building upon estimates of teacher ‘value-added’ generated from the Young Lives 2016-17 school effectiveness survey, the classroom observation study offers the opportunity to understand more about what is happening in the classroom, and how this is associated with variation in student learning gain.

The classroom observations were conducted using the CLASS-Secondary (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) tool for classroom observation. The comprehensive teacher-level data generated by use of the CLASS-S methodology provide detailed aggregate information of some of the teaching practices which make a difference to student learning. This report details some of the key findings from this study, along with a discussion of some of the implications of these.

Young Lives School Surveys, 2016-17: The Design and Development of Teacher Measures for Use in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam

Rhiannon Moore
School effectiveness
Technical notes
YL-TN44_1.pdf222.82 KB

This technical note provides background information on the design, selection, use and validation of a set of contextual measures at teacher and class levels which have been used in the Young Lives 2016-17 school surveys. These measures aim to provide data on teacher attitudes, professional knowledge, and classroom environment which can be used to explore how different teacher factors contribute to variation in student learning.

The note includes a discussion of the rationale for the inclusion of each of these measures, along with details of the process of developing the measures used in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. It also includes a brief discussion of the initial validation of these measures, using data collected in the second wave of the school surveys in 2016-17.

Building on the design of the Young Lives primary school surveys between 2010-13, the 2016-17 school surveys examine school effectiveness at upper primary level in Ethiopia, and at secondary level in India and Vietnam. The surveys examine school effectiveness through multiple outcome measures, including students’ learning progress in mathematics and functional English. Background data collected from students, teachers and head teachers helps to contextualise the learning outcomes data.


Measuring learning quality in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam: from primary to secondary school effectiveness

Padmini Iyer
School effectiveness
Journal Article

This paper examines the way in which learning quality has been conceptualised and measured in school effectiveness surveys conducted by Young Lives. Primary school surveys were conducted in Vietnam in 2010–11 and Ethiopia in 2012–13, and surveys at upper-primary and secondary level were conducted in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam in 2016–17. The paper discusses the design of cognitive tests to assess Maths and reading at primary level, and then focuses on the development of cognitive tests to assess Maths, functional English and transferable skills at upper-primary and secondary level. In particular, the paper explores how learning quality can be conceptualised and measured in relation to ‘twenty-first century skills’, which are increasingly seen as an important outcome of secondary education. The challenges of designing cognitive tests to measure and compare learning quality across three diverse country contexts are also explored.


Learning qualityschool effectivenessprimary educationsecondary educationtwenty-first century skills.


Download  Measuring learning quality in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam: from primary to secondary school effectiveness  Padmini Iyer and Rhiannon Moore.

School effectiveness in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam: Launch of Key findings from the 2016-17 Young Lives School Survey

University of Oxford

In 2016-17, Young Lives conducted school effectiveness surveys to examine the quality of learning outcomes at upper primary and secondary level in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. At this event, the Young Lives Education team will share key findings on the variation in learning achievement within and between countries, and on the ‘value-added’ by different schools and school types in these countries. Particular attention will be given to cross-country findings on quality learning, enabled by the development of learning metrics designed to be both contextually relevant and internationally comparable. Initial findings from Young Lives’ most recent school survey in Peru, conducted in 2017, will also be presented.

Using unique evidence from the Young Lives school surveys, this event offers a space to discuss and debate key issues in global education, including the development of global learning metrics, addressing inequalities within education systems, the assessment of ‘21st century skills’ in low and middle-income countries, and the privatisation of education.

The event will be chaired by Professor Pauline Rose, director of the REAL Centre, and the discussant will be Lucy Crehan, consultant at Education Development Trust and author of ‘Cleverlands’. It will take place the day before the 2017 UKFIET conference on Learning and Teaching for Sustainable Development at New College, Holywell Street, Oxford, OX1 3BN.

Book now on our Eventbrite page.


Save the Date: Young Lives School Survey Findings Launch, September 2017

Submitted by remote on Tue, 05/30/2017 - 20:39

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