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New Project Forum report on Principal Preparedness to Support Diverse Learners

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Journal Article: The achievement gap between science classrooms and historic inequalities

Journal Article » The achievement gap between science classrooms and historic inequalities


Education, Science/Achievements, Student, Student achievements/South Africa, Third International Mathematics and Science Study (Project)


Howie, Sarah; Scherman, Vanessa


2008, June


Part of a special issue based on the secondary analysis of data from the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) focusing on gaps between subgroups. A study compared classroom conditions, teacher actions, and pupils' achievement in science for well-functioning and provisioned classrooms and not well-functioning and poorly provisioned classrooms in South Africa. The well-functioning and provisioned classrooms predominantly house White teachers and White or mixed classes in urban areas and the not well-functioning and poorly provisioned classrooms largely house African teachers and African pupils in peri-urban and rural areas. Data were derived from TIMSS 1999. It was found that, on a scale with an international mean score of 500 points, the students' average class science score taught by White teachers was nearly 300 points more than students taught by African teachers. In addition, the average class science score in rural areas was approximately 130 points less than in classes in urban areas. Some interesting results in terms of possible explanatory factors for the achievement gaps have implications for policymakers.