Helping pupils to understand the logical principles underlying maths may improve their mathematical achievement, according to the findings of a randomised controlled trial published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
Mathematical Reasoning lessons focus on developing pupils’ understanding of the logic principles underlying maths, and cover principles such as place value and the inverse relation between addition and subtraction. One hundred and sixty English primary schools took part in the trial, and were randomly allocated to receive either Mathematical Reasoning or to be in the control group. The control group was given the opportunity to take part in the programme the following year. Teachers in the intervention schools delivered the programme to Year 2 pupils over 12 to 15 weeks as part of their usual maths lessons. Learning was supported by online games, which could be used by pupils at school and at home.
The independent evaluation by a team from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found a small but statistically significant effect size of +0.08 on maths achievement for pupils who took part in the programme, compared to other pupils. It had the same impact for pupils eligible for free school meals. They also found some evidence that the programme had a positive impact on mathematical reasoning.
Source: Mathematical Reasoning: Evaluation report and executive summary (December 2018), Education Endowment Foundation.
A study published in Economics of Education Review looks at the evidence from the extended school day (ESD) programme in Florida to determine whether pupils benefit from longer school days.
In 2012, Florida introduced the ESD programme, increasing the length of the school day by an hour in the lowest-performing elementary (primary) schools in order to provide additional reading lessons. The lessons had to be based on research, adapted for pupil ability, and include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Schools were selected using school-level reading accountability measures. For this study, David Figlio and colleagues looked at reading scores for all pupils in Florida between grades 3 and 10 (Years 4 and 11) using school administrative data from 2005–06 and 2012–13, and employed a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of lengthening the school day, looking at the different performance of schools either side of the cut-off point.
Results indicated that the additional one hour of reading lessons had a positive effect on pupils’ reading achievement. ESD schools showed an improvement of +0.05 standard deviations on reading test scores in the first year. The annual cost of the ESD programme was $300,000-$400,000 per school, or $800 per pupil.
Source: Do students benefit from longer school days? Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida’s additional hour of literacy instruction (December 2018), Economics of Education Review, Volume 67
Marta Pellegrini from the University of Florence and Cynthia Lake, Amanda Inns and Robert E Slavin from Johns Hopkins Center for Research and Reform in Education have released a new report on effective programmes in primary maths. The report reviews research on the mathematics achievement outcomes of all programmes with at least one study meeting the inclusion criteria of the review. A total of 78 studies were identified that evaluated 61 programmes in grades K–5 (Years 1–6).
The studies were very high in quality, with 65 (83%) randomised and 13 (17%) quasi-experimental evaluations. Key findings were as follows:
- Particularly positive outcomes were found for tutoring programmes.
- One-to-one and one-to-small group models had equal impacts, as did teachers and paraprofessionals as tutors.
- Technology programmes showed modest positive impacts.
- Professional development approaches focused on helping teachers gain in understanding of maths content and pedagogy had no impact on pupil achievement, but more promising outcomes were seen in studies focused on instructional processes, such as cooperative learning.
- Whole-school reform, social-emotional approaches, maths curricula and benchmark assessment programmes found few positive effects, although there were one or more effective individual approaches in most categories.
The findings suggest that programmes emphasising personalisation, engagement and motivation have most impact in primary maths teaching, while strategies focused on textbooks, professional development for maths knowledge or pedagogy, and other strategies that do not substantially impact pupils’ daily experiences have little impact.
Source: Effective programs in elementary mathematics: A best-evidence synthesis (October 2018), Johns Hopkins University
Elementary (primary) pupils who participated in a comprehensive support intervention in the Boston public school district are less likely to drop out of high school (secondary school) than pupils not in the intervention, according to a new study published in AERA Open.
Terrence K Lee-St. John and colleagues examined the impact of City Connects – a schoolwide systemic pupil support programme which provides extra academic and social support for pupils in poverty – on high school drop-out rates. Their study tracked pupils from six elementary (primary) schools who participated in the intervention from kindergarten until fifth grade (Years 1 to 6). These pupils were compared to pupils who were enrolled in the school district at the same time but didn’t use the intervention programme.
In each participating school, a full-time coordinator, who is a master’s degree-level licensed school counsellor or social worker, meets with every classroom teacher and other school staff to review every pupil, every year. The coordinator and staff discuss each child’s strengths and needs for academic, social/emotional/behavioural development, health, and family support. Since not every factor that may influence later drop-out presents itself as a “red flag”, this approach allows the less obvious factors to be identified and addressed early.
The study found that pupils who participated in the intervention had a 9.2% drop-out rate in high school, compared to 16.6% for the non-intervention pupils.
Source: The long-term impact of systemic student support in elementary school: Reducing high school dropout (October 2018), AERA Open, Volume: 4 issue: 4
A meta-analysis, published in Review of Educational Research, examines how shared book reading affects the English language and literacy skills of young children learning English as an additional language (EAL)
Shared book reading involves an adult reading with one or more children, and is considered to be an effective practice for language and literacy development. It may also involve interactive practices such as dialogic reading techniques to engage children or reinforce specific ideas or words from the text.
For this meta-analysis, Lisa Fitton and colleagues identified 54 studies of shared reading interventions conducted in the US that met their inclusion criteria. The total number of participants across the studies was 3,989, with an average age of six.
Results revealed an overall positive effect of shared reading on EAL outcomes (effect size = +0.28). Children’s developmental status moderated this effect, with larger effect sizes found in studies including only typically developing children (+0.48) than in studies including only participants with developmental disorders (+0.17).
Source: Shared book reading interventions with English learners: a meta-analysis (October 2018), Review of Educational Research, volume: 88 issue: 5
A study conducted by Neil Humphrey and colleagues, published in Public Health Research, reports on the findings of a randomised controlled trial of the social and emotional learning intervention, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS).
PATHS aims to promote children’s social skills via a taught curriculum, which is delivered by the class teacher. A total of 5,218 children in Years 3–5 (ages 7–9) from 45 primary schools in Greater Manchester participated in the trial. Schools were randomly allocated to deliver PATHS for two years or to continue as normal.
The findings of the study suggest that the impact of PATHS was modest and limited. Immediately after the intervention, there was tentative evidence that PATHS made a small improvement on children’s social skills (effect size = +0.09) as assessed by the Social Skills Improvement System. A small improvement in children’s psychological well-being (effect size = +0.07) was also found immediately after the intervention. However, there were no differences between children from PATHS and control schools for any outcomes at the 12- or 24-month post-intervention follow-ups.
Source: The PATHS curriculum for promoting social and emotional well-being among children aged 7–9 years: a cluster RCT. Public Health Research 6 (10).