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This issue's Promising Practices section highlights how a range of school-, district-, and state-level efforts incorporate the three components of HFRP's family involvement frameworks: Family involvement a) matters across ages but changes over time, b) occurs in many different settings, and c) should be coconstructed by families and professionals. 

Paul Gertler, Harry Patrinos, and Marta Rubio-Codina summarize a study on the outcomes associated with a school-based management intervention in Mexico.1

Mexico’s compensatory education program provides extra resources to primary schools that enroll students in highly disadvantaged rural communities. This intervention started in 1992 in the poorest states of Mexico and expanded to poorly performing schools in less disadvantaged areas. One important component of the program is the school-based management intervention known as AGEs (Apoyo a la Gestión Escolar, or School Management Support), which began in 1996. School-based management is the decentralization of power from central or state-level education authorities to local schools. Under this system, local stakeholders (principals, teachers, school committees, and parents) have an increased voice in running the schools—creating pressure to influence and alter school management and change decision making to favor students.

AGEs finance and support parent associations through annual grants transferred quarterly to the parent associations’ accounts—money that parent associations can use to invest in infrastructure or in materials they deem important for their schools. Parents receive training in the management of these funds, skills training to increase their involvement in school activities, and information about how to help their children learn. In return, parents must commit to greater involvement in school affairs, participate in the infrastructure work, and attend trainings.

Our objective in evaluating the AGEs was to examine whether the increased parental participation that they brought about helped to create a more conducive learning environment and improve students’ learning outcomes. This would provide robust evidence regarding claims of the beneficial impacts of school-based management. We employed a combination of quantitative techniques to estimate the size of the impacts and qualitative techniques to understand how and why these effects occurred.

For the quantitative analysis, we assessed the impact of the AGEs on intermediate school quality indicators—school-averaged grade failure, grade repetition, and dropout rates—acquired from school census data and official data collected by education ministry officials on the expansion of the compensatory education program. Because the intervention targeted multiple communities and expanded over time, we were able to obtain difference-in-difference estimates of impact. That is, we were able to compare how the evolution (the over-time trends) of the outcome variables differed between schools that had adopted AGEs (treatment schools) and those that had not yet received the intervention (comparison schools). The mean difference between the “after” and “before” values of the outcome indicators for schools in the treatment and comparison groups is calculated, followed by the difference between these two mean differences. The second difference (that is, the difference in difference) is the estimate of the impact of the program. The analysis controlled for characteristics of schools and municipalities that vary over time and that might have been correlated with the outcomes.

We focused our analysis on the impact of AGEs in rural nonindigenous primary schools between 1998 and 2001. We defined treatment schools as those that first received AGEs between school year 1998–1999 and school year 2001–2002 and that received it continuously since. We defined comparison schools as those that started receiving AGEs from 2002–2003 onward. Our final sample consisted of 6,038 schools, 43% of which are AGEs beneficiaries.

Our results show that AGEs are an effective measure for improving both parent involvement and student outcomes. We found a significant reduction in school-averaged grade failure and grade repetition in AGEs beneficiary schools. Specifically, there was a 4% decrease in the proportion of students failing a grade and a 4.2% decrease in the proportion of students repeating a grade. These effects remain strong and significant even after controlling for the presence of other educational interventions in the school, such as the proportion of Oportunidades (Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program) scholarship holders and the proportion of teachers under Carrera Magisterial, a performance incentive scheme.

Our results also suggest that AGEs are a cost-effective intervention. Parent associations at each participating school receive between $500 and $700 a year depending on school size. With over 45,000 schools and over 4.5 million students participating in the AGEs, the total cost of the AGE school grants is about $26 million a year, or just $5.86 per student annually.

Complementary qualitative evidence corroborates our broad empirical findings. Through interviews with parents and principals, we learned that the AGEs have increased parents’ involvement in school-related activities and in student life. Parents also report improved communication among parents, teachers, and directors. Principals in beneficiary schools reported that parents became more aware about their children’s academic performance and more likely to insist that their children fulfill school duties such as homework after the introduction of AGEs.

1 This article is summarized from Gertler, P. J., Rubio-Codina, M., & Patrinos, H. A. (2006). Empowering parents to improve education: Evidence from rural Mexico. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3935. Available at SSRN:

Paul J. Gertler
Li Ka Shing Distinguished Professor of Economics
Haas School of Business
University of California
Berkeley, CA 9407.
Tel: 510-642-1418

Harry Anthony Patrinos
Lead Education Economist
World Bank, 1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
Tel: 202-473-5510.

Marta Rubio-Codina
ESRC Research Fellow,
University College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies
7 Ridgmount Street
London WC1E 7AE
Tel: 00 44 20 7291 4800

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