The value of large-scale randomised control trials in system-wide improvement: The case of the Reading Catch-Up Programme

  • Brahm Fleisch
  • Stephen Taylor
  • Volker Schöer
  • Thabo Mabogoane
Keywords: impact evaluation, intermediate phase literacy, Randomised Control Trial


This article illustrates the value of large-scale impact evaluations with counterfactual components. It begins by exploring the limitations of small-scale impact studies, which do not allow reliable inference to a wider population or which do not use valid  comparison groups. The paper then describes the design features of a recent  large-scale randomised control trial (RCT) evaluation of an intermediate phase literacy intervention that we evaluated. Using a rigorous sampling process and randomised  assignment, the paper shows the value of the approach, and how the RCT method  prevents researchers from reaching potentially harmful false positive findings. The paper also considers some of the limitations of the RCT method and makes  recommendations to mitigate these.

Keywords: impact evaluation, intermediate phase literacy; Randomised Control Trial


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100