The low achievement trap: comparing schooling in Botswana and South Africa
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The Low Achievement Trap is an empirical study of student mathematics learning in Grade 6 classrooms that is unique in its focus on two school systems shaped by different political histories on either side of the Botswana-South Africa border. The study provides a detailed examination of the capacity of teachers - how they teach, how much they teach, and what they teach. Because of this wealth of detail, The Low Achievement Trap gives us much greater insight than previous research into why students seem to be making larger gains in the classrooms of South Eastern Botswana than in those of North West Province, South Africa. Rather than identifying a single major factor to explain this difference, the study finds that a composite of inter-related variables revolving around teachers' mathematics knowledge and their capacity to teach mathematics are crucial to improving education in both regions. The message is a hopeful one: good teachers can make a difference in student learning.