The Low Achievement Trap: Comparing Schooling in Botswana and South Africa

The Low Achievement Trap: Comparing Schooling in Botswana and South Africa


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Presenting an empirical study of student mathematics learning in sixth grade classrooms, this unique reference examines two school systems shaped by different political histories on either side of the Botswana–South Africa border. The analysis underscores the capacity of teachers—how they teach, how much they teach, and what they teach. This wealth of detail offers much greater insight than previous research into why students seem to be making larger gains in the classrooms of southeastern Botswana than in those of the northwest province of South Africa. Rather than identifying a single major factor to explain this difference, this volume reveals a composite of interrelated variables revolving around teachers’ mathematics knowledge as well as their capacity to teach the subject, contending that they’re crucial to improving education in both regions. Extensively researched, this survey delivers a much-needed and hopeful message: good teachers can make a difference in student learning.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780796923684
Publisher: Human Sciences Research Council
Publication date: 04/01/2012
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Martin Carnoy is a Vida Jacks professor at the Stanford School of Education. He lives in Stanford, California. Linda Chisholm is an advisor for the Ministry of Basic Education in Pretoria, South Africa. She is the author of South–South Cooperation in Education & Development. Bagele Chilisa is a professor of education at the University of Botswana.

Table of Contents

Figures and tables vi

Preface x

Executive summary xii

Acronyms and abbreviations xx

Introduction 1

1 Background to the study 6

2 Exploring policy differences and similarities 13

3 Conceptual framework and methodology 35

4 The school profile in the Botswana and North West samples 52

5 The school context: Characteristics of principals and instructional leadership 61

6 Learner knowledge of mathematics 73

7 Teacher knowledge of mathematics 89

8 Teacher proficiency to teach mathematics 105

9 Opportunity to learn and teaching and learning mathematics in Grade 6 classes 114

10 Are more knowledgeable teachers better teachers and do they provide more opportunity to learn? 128

11 Testing the overall model of student achievement 136

12 Conclusions 150

References 159

Contributors 167

Index 169

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