Transforming Global Education Through Evidence

An Evaluation System for the BHP Foundation's Education Equity Global Signature Program

by Benjamin K. Master, Shelly Culbertson, Brian Phillips, Elaine Lin Wang, Harold D. Green, Joe Francombe, Hamish Evans, Susan Guthrie

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Research Questions

  1. What are the goals, assumptions, and mechanisms needed to carry out the BHP Foundation's strategy?
  2. What key indicators will be used to evaluate impact over the next several years?
  3. How do the activities of partners contribute to program impacts?
  4. How can different types of networks be used to translate evidence into educational practice?
  5. How does the BHP Foundation’s strategy compare with and contribute to the broader landscape of global educational investments?

In 2017, the BHP Foundation launched its Education Equity Global Signature Program, which is meant to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged young people to access a quality education and, through this, strengthen the civil and economic components of society. It does so through investing in efforts that increase the use of evidence to improve education.

In support of the BHP Foundation's goals, RAND Corporation researchers are conducting a five-year evaluation of the program. The aims of the evaluation are to contribute to the development and evolution of the program's strategy by articulating a theory of change, assess the impacts of the program across funded partnerships and inform learning and continuous improvement for both the BHP Foundation and its partners, share lessons learned with the global education community about the results of a social investment initiative that aims to translate evidence into practice, and develop a model for evaluating a foundation's portfolio of investments.

The evaluation will result in three public reports. This initial report describes a framework to evaluate the BHP Foundation's program, explains researchers' methods for assessing progress over the five-year period, and presents some preliminary results after the first year of evaluation.

Key Findings

  • Program partners are undertaking a variety of activities to produce near-term direct impacts on education, including curating evidence, disseminating evidence-based strategies, developing local capacity, conducting advocacy to develop enabling environments, and testing potentially transformative innovations.
  • Common challenges faced by the Program partners include issues related to the readiness of local partner organizations to implement project initiatives, as well as challenges in the broader context, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The BHP Foundation has many areas of alignment with other organizations engaged in evidence-to-practice work globally. However, it is unique among comparable organizations for its investments in a variety of interventions, from governments to teachers to communities and business leaders. Partners are leveraging networks to enhance their ability to improve the implementation of evidence-based practice in education.
  • Partners are leveraging networks to enhance their ability to improve the implementation of evidence-based practice in education.
  • Long-term outcomes will take more than five years of partners' current BHP Foundation–funded work to fully realize. Indicators collected by partners are currently not intended to measure whether the Program on the whole is having its intended long-term impact.
  • The BHP Foundation could better articulate its leadership role beyond its investment in particular partners, particularly in terms of convening and linking stakeholders concerned with improving global education.

Recommendations

  • There is an opportunity to be more specific about pathways to success, which, in turn, might support progress in measurement and assist in selecting or giving guidance to new partners. A next step for the evaluation will be to work collaboratively with the BHP Foundation and program partners to more clearly articulate the pathways to global impact and the assumptions underlying these pathways.
  • In addition to more fully articulating the pathways through which its partners' work will yield long-term improvements in educational attainment and educational investments, the BHP Foundation should identify additional indicators that it will use to gauge progress along those pathways toward long-term outcomes.
  • The BHP Foundation could consider how its investments could jointly or synergistically contribute to systemic changes or scale up evidence-based initiatives in one or more specific contexts.
  • The BHP Foundation might wish to further connect with the wider global education reform movement, both as a collaborator and as an audience for key insights from the program's work.
  • The BHP Foundation could further connect current and future partners in ways that lead to concrete collaborations that advance the collective impact of the program. As the BHP Foundation has knowledge of each partner organization's work, it could envision and facilitate specific activities that particular partners could work on together locally or globally.
  • The BHP Foundation could build consideration for increasing, sustaining, and measuring cost-effectiveness or return on investment into these projects.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Program Strategy and Funded Partners

  • Chapter Three

    Measuring Progress

  • Chapter Four

    Illustrating Partner Activities, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

  • Chapter Five

    Visualizing Networks

  • Chapter Six

    Strategic Approaches of Comparator Organizations

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Key Indicator Tables

  • Appendix B

    Interviews and Network Analyses Research Approach

  • Appendix C

    Comparator Organization Analysis Approach

Research conducted by

This study was sponsored by the BHP Foundation and undertaken by RAND Education and Labor.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.