The Education Endowment Foundation evaluated the impact of the ReflectED programme using a randomised controlled trial involving 1,858 pupils across 30 schools in five areas throughout England over the academic year 2014/15. The evaluation examined the impact on the maths and reading achievement of Year 5 pupils, and also their attitudes toward reading and maths.
The ReflectED programme was developed by Rosendale Primary School to improve pupils’ metacognition — their ability to think about and manage their own learning. This includes the skills of setting and monitoring goals, assessing progress, and identifying personal strengths and challenges.
Year 5 pupils who took part in the trial made an average of four months’ additional progress in maths (ES = +0.30) compared to those in the control groups. The evaluators also found evidence that pupils in the programme developed a more positive attitude toward maths. However, in reading they made two fewer months’ progress than the control group (ES = -0.16) and developed a slightly less positive attitude toward the subject.
The evaluation also found that most schools were already teaching metacognitive and reflective skills similar to those taught in the ReflectED programme, which are likely to have continued in the control group classes. This might have limited the impact that ReflectED had on teachers’ practice and pupils’ outcomes.
Source: ReflectED: Evaluation report and executive summary (2016), Education Endowment Foundation
A study, published in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, explored the early development of gender gaps in mathematics achievement, including when gaps first appear, where in the distribution they develop, and whether these gaps have changed over the years.
Cimpian and colleagues compared two cohorts in the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: the kindergarten (Year 1) classes of 1998-1999 (N = 21,399) and 2010-2011 (N = 18,170). They observed that the gender gap at the top of the distribution (among the highest achievers in maths) begins in early elementary school (Year 2) and continues to get worse, and has not improved over the last decade. In both the 1998-1999 and 2010-2011 cohorts, girls represented less than one-third of students above the 99th percentile as early as the spring of kindergarten. By Grade 3 (Year 4) for the 1998-1999 cohort and Grade 2 (Year 3) for the 2010-2011 cohort, girls made up only one-fifth of those above the 99th percentile.
In addition to maths achievement, students’ learning behaviours and teacher expectations were examined, as these could be two potential contributors to the gender gaps. When boys and girls behaved and performed similarly, teachers in both cohorts underrated the maths skills of girls as early as Grade 1 (Year 2). In other words, in mathematics, for teachers to rate girls equally with boys, girls must work harder and behave better than the boys.
Source: Have gender gaps in math closed? Achievement, teacher perceptions, and learning behaviors across two ECLS-K cohorts (2016), AERA Open
A study published in the journal AERA Open has found that a web-based mathematics homework intervention called ASSISTments made a positive impact on students’ maths achievement at the end of the school year.
Jeremy Roschelle and colleagues conducted a randomised controlled trial with 2,850 Grade 7 (Year 8) maths students across 43 schools in the US state of Maine, which since 2002 has provided every student in Grade 7 with a laptop. Schools in the intervention and control groups were matched in terms of demographics and socioeconomic status.
The ASSISTments intervention provided students with immediate personalised feedback as they worked on their homework, and when students struggled they were given the opportunity to work on supplementary problems sets. The intervention also enabled formative assessment practices for teachers, such as adapting their discussions of homework to fit students’ needs.
In schools where students and their teachers used the intervention, students achieved higher standardised maths test scores (effect size = + 0.18) compared with students in the control schools. Students with low prior maths achievement, in particular, benefited the most.
Source: Online mathematics homework increases student achievement (2016) AERA Open
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released new intervention reports on two core mathematics curricula that seek to improve maths achievement in the secondary grades: The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project and Saxon Math.
The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) uses a student-centred approach to learning, incorporating problem solving, real-world applications, and the use of technology. The WWC identified two studies of UCSMP Algebra and one study of multiple UCSMP courses that fell within the scope of the WWC’s secondary maths topic area and met WWC research standards. According to the research, UCSMP Algebra I has potentially positive effects on both general maths achievement and algebra for secondary students. In addition, the cumulative effect of multiple UCSMP courses was found to have potentially positive effects on general maths achievement for these students. The full report can be found here.
Saxon Math is designed for students in grades K–12 (age 5–18) and uses an incremental structure that distributes content throughout the year. The WWC identified two studies of Saxon Algebra I that fell within the scope of the WWC’s secondary maths topic area and met WWC research standards. According to the research, Saxon Algebra I has no discernible effects on algebra achievement for secondary students. The full report can be found here.
Source: University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) and Saxon Math (2016), What Works Clearinghouse.
The Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest has conducted a literature review to determine what predictors from primary school of postsecondary STEM success have been identified in peer-reviewed studies, with a focus on predictors for Hispanic students.
The review defined postsecondary STEM success as enrollment in, persistence in, and completion of postsecondary STEM majors or degrees. Twenty-three relevant studies were identified, but only four examined factors predictive of success specifically for Hispanic students.
Key findings from the review included:
- The number of high school maths and science courses taken and the level of those courses predict postsecondary STEM success for all student subgroups, but racial/ethnic minority students were less likely than White students to take the highest level maths and science courses.
- Interest or confidence in STEM showed statistically significant predictive relationships with students’ postsecondary STEM success, and the relationships were evident as early as middle school. Racial/ethnic minority and White students had similar interest and confidence in STEM.
- Statistically significant high school predictors of postsecondary STEM success included schools’ academic rigour, percentage of students enrolled in college preparatory programmes, students’ satisfaction with their teachers, and levels of parent participation.
Source: A Review of the Literature to Identify Leading Indicators Related to Hispanic STEM Postsecondary Educational Outcomes (2016), Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.
A new working paper from Mathematica Policy Research looks at the role that teachers play in developing non-cognitive skills, the non-tested academic behaviours and mindsets that contribute to children’s long-term success. These behaviours and mindsets include emotional stability, motivation, persistence, and self-control.
Data came from 310 teachers in four US districts who had agreed to have their classes videotaped, complete a teacher questionnaire, and help collect a set of pupil outcomes. The study focused on Grade 4 and 5 (Year 5 and 6) maths classes, although all of the teachers involved were generalists.
The authors examined both “teacher effects” (the teacher themselves) and “teaching effects” (classroom practices) on a range of maths test scores and non-tested outcomes, specifically behaviour in class, happiness in class, and self-efficacy in maths.
They found that individual teachers have large effects on pupils’ self-reported behaviour in class, self-efficacy in maths, and happiness in class that are similar in magnitude to effects on test scores. However, teachers who are effective at improving these outcomes often are not the same as those who raise maths test scores.
The paper concludes that efforts to improve the quality of the teacher workforce should include teachers’ abilities to promote academic behaviours and mindsets.
Source: Teacher and teaching effects on students’ academic behaviors and mindsets (2015), Mathematica.