Perseverance, Passion, and Poverty: Examining the association between grit and reading achievement in high-poverty schools

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP06/2020
 
Publication date: April 2020
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
 
Abstract:

This paper examines whether school characteristics moderate the association between grit and reading achievement in a sample of Grade 6 learners in high-poverty contexts. The analysis makes use of data from 2,383 learners distributed across 60 township and rural schools in three provinces of South Africa. Indicators of school functionality are used to split the sample of schools into three groups (low, medium, and high functionality) and separate models of reading achievement are estimated for each group. The econometric analysis points to evidence of variation in the association between grit and reading achievement by school functionality, with a stronger association estimated for learners in more functional schools. The major contributions of this paper are as follows: Firstly, this paper is one of only a handful of studies that estimate the relationship between grit and academic achievement in a middle- income country, and the first to estimate this relationship among primary school learners in an African context. Second, the results provide empirical evidence in support of the hypothesis that school characteristics interact with non-cognitive skills to produce learning outcomes, a relationship that has received scant attention in the literature to date.

 
JEL Classification:

I20, I24, I29

Keywords:

Socio-emotional skills, grit, perseverance, school poverty

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BER Weekly

1 March 2021
Even with the release of data showing a record high unemployment rate in 2020Q4, it turned out to be a fairly good week for the SA economy. Daily new COVID-19 infections remained well contained, while the second batch of 80 000 J&J vaccines arrived (albeit controversially with the grounded SAA being the carrier). In addition, relative to the October...

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