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Starting Behind and Staying Behind in South Africa: The case of insurmountable learning deficits in mathematics

Author

Listed:
  • Nicholas Spaull

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Janeli Kotze

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

This study quantifies a year’s worth of mathematics learning in South Africa (0.3 standard deviations) and uses this measure to develop empirically-calibrated learning trajectories. Two main findings are, (1) only the top 16% of South African Grade 3 children are performing at an appropriate Grade 3 level. (2) The learning gap between the poorest 60% of students and the wealthiest 20% of students is approximately three Grade-levels in Grade 3, growing to four Grade-levels by Grade 9. The paper concludes by arguing that the later in life we attempt to repair early learning deficits in mathematics, the costlier the remediation becomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Spaull & Janeli Kotze, 2014. "Starting Behind and Staying Behind in South Africa: The case of insurmountable learning deficits in mathematics," Working Papers 27/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers232
    as

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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2014/wp272014/wp-27-2014.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2014
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lewis Sidney McLean & Servaas van der Berg, 2017. "Succeeding against the odds: A quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of IkamvaYouth," Working Papers 05/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    2. Nicholas Spaull, 2016. "Disentangling the language effect in South African schools: Measuring the impact of ‘language of assessment’ in grade 3 literacy and numeracy," Working Papers 19/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. Servaas van der Berg, 2015. "What the Annual National Assessments can tell us about learning deficits over the education system and the school career year," Working Papers 18/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Janeli Kotzé, 2015. "The readiness of the South African education system for a pre-Grade R year," Working Papers 15/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Marisa von Fintel & Servaas van der Berg, 2017. "What a difference a good school makes! Persistence in academic performance and the impact of school quality," Working Papers 07/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2017.
    6. Asmus Zoch, 2017. "The effect of neighbourhoods and school quality on education and labour market outcomes in South Africa," Working Papers 08/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    7. Stephen Taylor & Patricia Watson, 2015. "The impact of study guides on “matric” performance: Evidence from a randomised experiment," Working Papers 13/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Servaas van der Berg & Gabrielle Wills & Rebecca Selkirk & Charles Adams & Chris van Wyk, 2019. "The cost of repetition in South Africa," Working Papers 13/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    9. Johan Fourie, 2016. "The long walk to economic freedom after apartheid, and the road ahead," Working Papers 11/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mathematics; Learning Trajectories; South Africa; Hierarchical Learning; SACMEQ; TIMSS;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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