Improving Low Academic Performance: Opportunities and Deficits in Russian Schools



The paper analyzes the notions of parents and teachers about the reasons behind low academic achievements of children as well as about the opportunities to overcome learning difficulties provided by modern Russian schools. The study uses data from surveys of parents, students and teachers of comprehensive schools conducted as part of the Monitoring of the Economics of Education (IEE) implemented by the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) in the academic year 2020-2021.It is shown that the parents of low-achieving students notice the lack of attention from schools to the problems of children with learning difficulties, the lack of additional classes and support from specialists to overcome these difficulties. This group of parents demonstrates a higher level of willingness to transfer their children to another school. As for the teachers working in schools with a large number of poorly performing students, they tend to have a lower sense of responsibility for the academic success of students and a higher level of dissatisfaction with the choice of profession. They are less likely to receive support from various specialists (psychologists, special needs teachers, etc.), and as they realize they lack the professional skills necessary for working with children with learning and behavioral difficulties, they tend to engage more in professional development activities. The paper concludes that the psychological climate existing in classes and schools with a high proportion of underachieving students is an impediment in overcoming low academic performance, and that the groups of parents and teachers experiencing the greatest difficulties in providing quality education also experience the greatest deficit of support.

General Information

Keywords: underachieving students, learning difficulties, psychological climate

Journal rubric: Educational Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Received: 01.10.2021


For citation: Kosaretsky S.G., Mertsalova T.A., Senina N.A. Improving Low Academic Performance: Opportunities and Deficits in Russian Schools. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2021. Vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 69–82. DOI: 10.17759/pse.2021260605. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Sergey G. Kosaretsky, PhD in Psychology, Director of the Pinsky Centre of General and Extracurricular Education, Institute of Education, HSE University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatyana A. Mertsalova, PhD in Education, Leading Expert, Pinsky Centre of General and Extracurricular Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Institute of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Natalia A. Senina, Research Assistant, Pinsky Centre of General and Extracurricular Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Institute of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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