The rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Matthew effects and achievement differences in support programmes
Support programmes frequently have the surprising effect that they do not, as intended, reduce differences between high-achieving and low-achieving students, but rather increase them (“Matthew effects”). This article first of all discusses empirical documentary evidence of Matthew effects under special consideration of differing learning gains depending on the type of school attended. Thereafter, on the basis of findings from two evaluation studies, it presents a taxonomy model for disproportionate gains in support programmes, which is underpinned by achievement-based individual effects and access-based structural effects. Following this, several differential psychological and social policy/economic questions will be discussed regarding how Matthew effects should fundamentally be dealt with when compensatory measures do not achieve the intended effects. Finally, some educational consequences will be formulated, which might contribute to their equalization.
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