Learning Impacts: Providing school committees with funds to hire an extra teacher on a short-term contract had a positive effect on learning. Test scores of students in ETP schools were on average 0.22 standard deviations higher than those of students in comparison schools. However, not all students benefitted equally. The program impact varied a lot with the details of how it was implemented. In particular:
- The impact was significant for students assigned to the ETP contract teacher (0.29 standard deviation gain) while that on students assigned to the civil-service teachers was not.
- The impact was larger when the ETP program was accompanied with SBM training (0.24 standard deviation) than when it was implemented alone (0.20 standard deviation).
- There was relatively rapid fade-out of these learning gains in the year after the program ended, except for the gains in tracking schools and the gains in SBM schools.
Teacher effort: A crude measure of teacher effort is how often the teacher is found in class and teaching during a random spot check. This rate is 58 percent among civil-service teachers in non-ETP schools, suggesting relatively low levels of efforts. Despite their low pay, contract teachers were found 11.7 percentage points (20 percent) more likely to be teaching during a random visit. As a result, their students learned more. In contrast, civil-service teachers in ETP schools responded to the introduction of the ETP program by decreasing their own effort: the probability that they would be found in class teaching during a random visit decreased 15.7 percentage points (27 percent). As a result, their students did not significantly gain in learning over students in comparison schools, despite being in much smaller classes. One of the reasons why the SBM program led to increased learning gains is that it mitigated the negative effort response by civil-service teachers.
Selection of Contract Teachers: Because a contract teacher position is a stepping stone for permanent civil-service positions, it is highly valuable (despite the low pay). As a result, existing civil-service teachers may want to hire their own relatives as contract teachers. In ETP schools without SBM training, 31 percent of contract teachers hired were relatives of existing teachers in the school. Those relatives tended to perform less well than other contract teachers. The second reason why the SBM program led to increased learning gains is that SBM increased the transparency of the contract-teacher recruiting process. Specifically, it reduced the number of contract teachers who were hired because they were related to an existing teacher by about half.
Homogeneous classrooms: Compared to students in non-tracking ETP schools, students in tracking ETP schools were in more homogeneous classes. This homogeneity benefitted them, irrespective of whether they had started at the top, middle, or bottom of the distribution.
Homogeneity is beneficial in part because it allows teachers to better tailor their materials to the level of their students, but also because it increases teachers’ attendance in the classroom. For those who started at the middle of the distribution, being assigned to the bottom track (instead of the top track) had no detrimental effect on their learning, because the decrease in peer quality was compensated by a positive effect of being at the top of the class.
Overall the results suggest that while hiring supplementary contract teachers can be part of the solution to Kenya’s teacher shortage, to get the most out of these teachers, implementation details matter. The biggest gains come when local school committees are empowered to oversee the recruitment process and to effectively monitor teachers, and when classes are structured so as to target instruction to students’ initial achievement level.