Dr. Laura Randall is Professor Emerita at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University. She is co-editor of education for Brazilink, and co- chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Brazil. Dr. Randall has authored a number of books, such as The Political Economy of Brazilian Oil (1993), The Political Economy of Mexican Oil (1989), The Political Economy of Venezuelan Oil (1987), An Economic History of Argentina in The Twentieth Century; and A Comparative Economic History of Latin America (4 vols). Dr. Randall edited The Politcal Economy of Latin America in the Post War Period, Reforming Mexico's Agrarian Reform; and Economic Development: Evolution or Revolution.2005 0-7734-5844-1
This book presents a summary and methodology of analysis of factors affecting learning and cost effective schooling in primary schools in Latin America; chapters on primary school education for Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico are presented, as are analyses of the four nations as a group and each nation individually of family, classroom, and school factors including educational programs, that affect student achievement in language and in mathematics. In Brazil, the impact of the color of the student at both the individual and classroom levels and that of the teacher on student achievement is analyzed. Among the major findings are that low cost policies such as assigning the best teacher to the first grade, shifting parents’ educational activities from participation in school management to ensuring that the student completes homework, and targeting assistance to poorly performing schools would improve achievement. Cost effective improvements for those in the lowest achievement groups are improving socioeconomic conditions by improving housing and adopting constructivist techniques. The longer school programs are in existence, the greater their impact. The Mexican reading program (PRONALEES) is especially effective. An extensive review of the literature and bibliography is provided.