# Will the low-achieving children always be there?

I understand that the question in the title, and of course, the longer version of the question (below) is too broad and subject to being closed.

Will the low-achieving children always be there, is it their fault or the education systems fault?

Fortunately, neither of them is the question that I am directly interested in! Here is the story. I am working with a group of first year mathematics students in a course that is somehow about mathematics education. As part of their assessment, they have to write a short essay on a problem that they are personally interested in finding an answer for. One of the students came up with the question above. I realize that it is too hard for a short essay over a short time. But, I am so intrigued by the question that I've decided to find a way to help her to delimit the question and does something about it. That is why I am here, to get help to make the question approachable. To keep answers "closed to discussion" please just give the following:

The angle(s) that the question can be approached from + some good resources (papers, books, etc) related to the angle(s) you suggest

• By low-achieving, do you mean children who perform at a lower level than they should be able to, or just generally children whose performance is some amount below average for their age group? Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 15:46
• @Johanna I guess your first option makes more sense, since "naturally" the second scenario will happen: in any population, whatever we measure, there are some below average! To be honest, I don't know how to think of the question though It seems very "natural" question. Interestingly, in the original version "lower group/set" had been used instead "low-achieving" and I changed it! Maybe I was wrong. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 16:10
• This should be helpful: nea.org/home/12464.htm Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 16:47
• One of the "angles" from which I might read this is: Are the students who are low-achieving [by whatever definition] early on also the low-achieving students later on? I expect, for a reasonable definition, you will find an answer of: Yes, low-achievement early on was a strong predictor of low-achievement later on. And so the more interesting question to me [and this is a question around which research exists -- though I have no expertise here!] is: What characterizes low-achievers who became high-achievers? (Separately: Check Do schools make a difference? [1977] and who cited it...) Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 10:09
• (The first math-ed paper that comes to [my] mind in this general area is: A "Gap-Gazing" Fetish in Mathematics Education? Problematizing Research on the Achievement Gap by Rochelle Gutiérrez...) Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 10:13