Nav: Home

Fighting academic failures

May 27, 2019

Children from undereducated, low-income families face a greater risk of poor academic performance. But schools are capable of decreasing these risks. Experts from the Higher School of Economics have studied international experience in addressing these challenges. The results have presented in Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology.

Above Barriers

Many international studies have demonstrated that family context impacts a child's school progress, showing a correlation between parents' socio-economic status and children's achievements. Low levels of education, income and cultural interest in the family often have a negative impact on the progress of school-age children and as a result may hinder their social mobility.

However, strict predetermination is not inevitable. Children may overcome their circumstances and study well, expanding their opportunities in life. It is important to support such students and create a favourable school environment for them. Having studied the experience of Russian schools that achieved high results despite students' family circumstances, as well as similar practices in Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Belgium, Sergey Kosaretsky, Aleksandra Mikhailova and Evgeny Isaev suggest some support measures in their paper. IQ.HSE selected some most interesting ideas to support socially vulnerable students.

Subsidies and Monitoring

Additional funding and remedial education are the most obvious approaches that many countries use to address these challenges.

Schools that teach a large number of kids from families experiencing economic hardship are granted special subsidies or increased funding. It is often up to the schools to decide which areas should be supported. For example, schools can hire additional staff or pay bonuses to teachers who work with underachieving students. These additional funds can also be used to create advisory centres and expert teams. Money can be invested in professional development for teachers or to design language programmes for migrants' children.

One example of an programme that provides additional funding is the London Challenge in Great Britain. This programme started locally but later evolved to include other regions. It focuses on socially vulnerable demographic groups and aims to prevent underachievement by working with low performers. Schools with mixed-ability students receive additional funding, which stimulates teaching and organization of additional classes.

Remedial education includes programmes to develop basic literacy and arithmetic skills. But it also includes a system to monitor 'those who may lag behind and fall out of the system in order to minimize the risks of such students dropping out,' the researchers explained.

In addition to these general measures to promote academic performance, different countries have their own national approaches with different areas of focus.

Portugal: Preventing Drop-out

A 2012 programme adopted in Portugal that aims to combat 'early drop-out from schools' is completely personalized in that underachieving students receive individual curricula.

Children who risk failing the public exam in 4th and 6th grades receive additional classes and trial exams in order to determine their levels. Classes may be formed depending on academic performance, which allows underachievers to receive more targeted support.

Belgium: Success Tutors

Another country-specific option involves special teachers of success. In Belgium, schools with a large number of socially vulnerable students employ staff members who identify children who are at risk of academic failure and help them. Such support in different subjects is, in fact, a form of free tutoring, the authors explain.

Ireland: Fighting Inequality Starting in Preschool

In Ireland, the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools programme has been in place since 2005. It aims to begin equalizing opportunities for education as early as preschool. Kids are offered a year of free studies before they go on to elementary school.

Another programme, Home School Community Liaison, helps to build a liaison between the school and the family. A programme representative in the school is relieved of routine teaching duties, which allows him or her to focus on working with families that come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This representative is responsible for building relations between parents and the school in order to better integrate the students.

France: Psychophysiology Aid

Priority Education is a programme that aims to improve the performance of students in school who are in difficult situations. The programme offers help not only from teachers, but also from doctors and psychologists. This French initiative bears resemblance to

the Russian approach. According to the researchers, Russian teaching practice tends to 'detect psychophysiological and psychological (motivational and cognitive) qualities among underachieving school students.'

Teachers in French schools covered by the programme communicate with parents regularly and undertake projects together with the students. They work personally with struggling students in small groups (this is of vital importance for the most troubled schools in the Priority Education Plus programme).

Germany: Socialization in Clubs

A correlation has been established between extracurricular activities and school performance. Teenagers who take part in clubs and other activities after classes feel more confident and study better. For students who come from families experiencing economic hardship and for migrant children, this is also a way to help with social engagement. Germany's federal educational authority has allocated over €30 million annually since 2013 to supporting extracurricular activities in families that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The 'educational package' proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs also supports students from poor and undereducated families who are given an opportunity to attend clubs and excursions.

Since 2004, Germany has actively developed 'full day' schools that offer kids after-school activities in an open format where they can do their homework or play.

Six Ideas for Russia

Based on international experience, the researchers suggest the following:

Supporting students and schools of different levels is essential. Financial support should be made a priority, including special-purpose subsidies, bonuses and grants in exchange for schools' obligation to equalize students' performance. Schools should be able to administer funds independently. Focus should be made, for example, on continuing education for teachers.

A rich educational environment is important: school days should be filled with additional classes on school subjects and extracurricular activities.

Pro-family action is needed and can include granting personal certificates that socially vulnerable students can use to receive additional education.

It makes sense to develop 'resilient school' practices, i.e., those aimed at exceeding expectations and that help students from challenging family backgrounds achieve high results. Such schools intensify the educational environment and have the ability to work with mixed-ability classes. Strong students are given optional classes, preparation for competitions, and subject-specific classes, while weaker students are provided supplementary courses. The teaching staff have high expectations of their students, which serves as additional motivation. Additionally, children are involved in the school's non-academic life, which also promotes performance.

Independence and leadership are essential in school administration. Children study better at schools where headmasters are focused on teaching methods and solving internal challenges rather than following external regulations.

Personalized educational trajectories that consider students' demands and interests are helpful.
-end-


National Research University Higher School of Economics

Related Academic Performance Articles:

Study busts 9 to 5 model for academic work
An observational study of academic working hours has identified large differences in how researchers around the world manage their work-life balance.
Is overall screen time associated with academic performance in kids, teens?
Screen time overall wasn't associated with the academic performance of children and adolescents in this observational study.
Fighting academic failures
Children from undereducated, low-income families face a greater risk of poor academic performance.
Taking arts classes leads to better academic performance, Mason research shows
A new study from the George Mason University Arts Research Center and published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts found a link between arts elective courses in music, dance, visual art and drama, and better grades in middle school.
Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.
Citations show academic and non-academic researchers 'win' when they collaborate
Findings in new PNAS paper indicate that when academics work with business, government, and/or NGO partners they produce more cited, higher impact research.
Women much less likely to ask questions in academic seminars than men
A new study reveals a stark disparity between male and female participation in departmental seminars which helps to explain the 'leaky pipeline' of female representation in academic careers.
Mediterranean diet may improve academic performance by affecting sleep
A new Acta Paediatrica study indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may improve adolescents' academic performance, and the effect may relate to sleep quality.
Rules about technology use can undermine academic achievement
Parents who restrict their children's use of new media technologies may be acting counterproductively in the long run, particularly if they invoke afterschool homework time as the reason.
Preschool home visiting program improves academic performance
A program of home visits designed to help families enhance school readiness for their preschool children had by the third grade improved academic performance, eased the social-emotional adjustment to school, and reduced problems at home for the children.
More Academic Performance News and Academic Performance Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.