Strengthening Teacher Accountability to Reach All Students (STARS)

October 3, 2016

Targeted instruction, where teachers group children according to learning levels rather than age, has shown to have positive effects on learning. This approach has the potential to improve math skills and literacy for millions of children who are in school and not learning. The evaluation of the education program in Ghana will help education specialists understand the potentials of targeted instruction and the best ways to achieve success.


Research area: Education
Country: Ghana
Evaluation Sample: 480 schools in three regions
Timeline: Ongoing
Intervention: Targeted instruction; supervision, monitoring, training 
Researchers: Anne Fitzpatrick, University of Massachusetts Boston; Adrienne Lucas, University of Delaware; Sabrin Beg, University of Delaware; Renaud Comba, Innovations for Poverty Action; Bridget Konadu Gyamfi; Innovations for Poverty Action; Joyce Jumpah, Innovations for Poverty Action; Deborah Newitter Mikesell, World Bank 



Ghana has made major strides in education in recent years, with nearly all children of primary school age in school and completing the six years. However, learning outcomes aren’t good. Less than one-third of primary school children have tested proficient in English or mathematics in recent years, and one-fifth of third graders were unable to read a single word in English in a 2009 assessment. As part of a campaign to improve the quality of education, the government is seeking to increase the amount of time primary school teachers spend using targeted instruction - teaching students at their level of knowledge, not their grade level. The evaluation will examine the impact of increased training and supervision for targeted instruction on teacher performance and student success.

Photo: © Jonathan Ernst/World Bank


The randomized evaluation will test interventions designed to increase the amount of time teachers spend on targeted instruction in basic literacy and numeracy in primary grades.

As part of the design, there are two treatment arms and one control. In the first treatment group, the District Director of Education will issue a directive to schools stating that they must implement targeted instruction in upper primary classes for one-hour daily. Circuit supervisors, head teachers and teachers will be trained in how to do this.

In the second treatment group, there will be improved supervision support in addition to the mandated targeted instruction.  The supervisors will learn about the rules, regulations and disciplinary processes around teacher accountability and support, while also receiving training so they can enforce implementation of targeted instruction. They are provided with simple data collection tools to monitor and report on teacher performance, given sufficient petrol to ensure they can visit study schools twice per term, given airtime to make “supervisory” calls to school head teachers once per week and provided with refresher trainings semi-annually.  

The third arm consists of the control group, which receives no targeted instruction and no intervention to improve supervision. Each arm consists of 160 randomly assigned schools.

Researchers will assess the English and math scores for children in grades four through six, as well as teacher indicators such as attendance, completion of lesson plans and implementation of targeted instruction.