Comparing opportunity to learn and student achievement gains in southern African primary schools: a new approach

A popular explanation for low student achievement in many developing countries’ primary schools is that students have relatively little opportunity to learn (OTL) the skills needed for academic success. However logical this explanation may be, surprisingly little empirical evidence has been presented to support it. In this paper the authors address this gap by estimating the effect of OTL on students’ academic performance using rich data gathered on the teaching process in a large number of South African and Botswana Grade 6 classrooms. They use an innovative classroom fixed effects approach to estimate the impact of OTL on students’ mathematics achievement gains. They found statistically significant but very different results for our South Africa and Botswana samples. The discussion of those results in the context of differences in the two school systems gives insights into the importance and limits of OTL as an explainer of student learning in low achievement schools.

author
Addy, Nii
Carnoy, Martin
Reeves, Cheryl
language
ENG
date
2013
Pages
p. 426-435
regions
Africa
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themes
Social barriers to education
Studies of achievement
Pays
South Africa
Botswana
levels
Primary education

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