Solutions to Learning Poverty

Can Education be Standardized? Evidence from Kenya

2019 Nobel Prize-winning economist, Professor Michael Kremer and co-authors ground-breaking study into Bridge International Academies methodology in Kenya reveals learning gains among the largest ever measured in international education.


Extract from the Study

“The effects in this study are among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a program that was already operating at scale. 

“This study shows that attending schools delivering highly standardized education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains at scale, suggesting that policymakers may wish to explore incorporation of standardization, including standardized lesson plans and teacher feedback and monitoring, in their own systems.”

Kremer and his co-authors found that primary pupils through Class 8 in Bridge International Academies, gain almost an additional year of learning (0.89) under Bridge International Academies’ integrated methodology, learning in two years what their peers learn in nearly three.

For Pre-Primary pupils the gains were even bigger. Those pupils in Bridge International Academies gained almost an additional year and half of learning (1.48), learning in two years what pupils  in other schools learn in three and a half years. 


Bridge International Academies’ methods increased learning by 1.35 standard deviations for pre-primary pupils and 0.81 standard deviations for primary pupils, up through Class 8. To put these into context, these effect sizes far exceed the 99th percentile and represent learning gains in the top 1% among large, rigorous studies in emerging markets.

If replicated at scale across public education systems, the gains would be enough to put Kenyan children from underserved communities on track to match their peers in countries with incomes three or four times higher.

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Key Facts

“Enrolling at Bridge reduces dispersion in test scores, having larger effects for pupils at the bottom of the test score distribution than those at the top. 

“Enrolling at Bridge has positive effects on grade progression and on measures of working memory, self-control, and receptive vocabulary. 

We find positive and statistically significant effects on higher order skills.

“Bridge have higher reported instructional time, lower reported teacher absence, and higher reported teacher and parent engagement in child’s education.”

The two-year study is the result of a large-scale randomized control trial (RCT), including more than 10,000 pupils from low socioeconomic backgrounds.