Improving accountability in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s schools

Research question

Can career incentives---accelerated or delayed promotion based on performance---improve teacher performance and student learning? If so, is it more cost effective to provide career incentives for headteachers, teachers, or both?

Research summary and methodology

Pakistan has low student learning levels and accountability is a pervasive problem. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department wants to improve learning by increasing teacher and headteacher accountability through the reform of two dysfunctional accountability systems. Teachers have annual teacher performance evaluations with scores linked to promotions, but they are conducted at the end of the calendar year (overlapping two school years), performed by headteachers who find it difficult to criticize colleagues, and do not include teaching-specific measures known to improve learning. Headteachers face school inspections, but they are irregular, unstructured, and results often unreported. Thus, neither system currently motivates effort.

Our team is collaborating with the KP E&SE Department to implement an RCT funded by the International Growth Centre to improve these two systems, tie promotions to performance, and assess their impacts. The RCT involves 240 public primary schools in three districts in KP with four study arms: headteacher incentives via improved school inspections, teacher incentives via improved teacher performance evaluations, both, and control. The new teacher performance evaluations and school inspections will be carried out by an independent third party, cover the academic year, and measure teaching-specific outcomes that matter for learning. The independent inspectors will rank groups of teachers and schools based on pre-specified criteria, and teachers and headteachers will have their promotions accelerated or delayed based on these rankings. The study will provide the KP E&SE Department with an evidence base to assess whether strengthening of career incentives is an effective policy to motivate educator effort and improve student learning outcomes.

Collaborating Researchers

Sahar Asad (LUMS, Pakistan), Masooma Habib (CDPR), Naureen Karachiwalla (IFPRI), Katrina Kosec (IFPRI)

CSAE Researchers

Clare Leaver