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Government Extends Successful Numeracy Programme

More than 400 new schools will be using a new way of teaching mathematics this year following a successful evaluation of the programme in the 83 pilot schools, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

Trevor Mallard released the evaluation report of the "Count Me In Too" programme this afternoon and said it had been enormously successful.

"The $1.5 million pilot focussed on teachers of year one to three students and improved teacher confidence through improving their understanding of mathematics content knowledge and pedagogy.

"It was centred around the number strand of the curriculum statement in particular early number knowledge and the mental strategies that children use to solve number problems.

"The evaluation report shows that overall children advanced at least one stage on each of the five aspects of the Learning Framework in Number. The framework enables teachers to more accurately identify the number development and learning needs of children.

"The Government has extended the project this year into the Early Numeracy Project. It will involve more than 2,000 teachers and 50,000 children in about 400 schools from throughout the country. As well, we have extended the work being done for older children in the Advanced Numeracy Project for teachers at Years Four to Six. The cost of these projects this year is about $7.2 million.

"The changes are part of a longer term strategy that will enable all primary teachers to participate in professional development to improve their teaching of mathematics.

"It is vital to later learning that children get a good start in basic numeracy. Government-supported numeracy initiatives in schools provide a solid base to provide New Zealand school children with the necessary good start," Trevor Mallard said.


Executive Summary


The Project

In 2000, the Ministry of Education offered the Count Me In Too (CMIT) pilot project to New Zealand schools as a junior school mathematics professional development project. The project involved 17 facilitators, 81 schools, 563 teachers, and approximately 10,000 students. The fundamental goal of the project was to develop the knowledge of junior class teachers to better understand students’ number strategies, knowledge, and their stages of development from using less sophisticated to using more sophisticated strategies. Ultimately, it was hoped that this improvement in teacher knowledge would lead to an improvement in the number achievement of junior class students. A framework for number development, which incorporated clear developmental stages, was central to the project.

The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate the impact of the CMIT pilot project on the participating facilitators, teachers, and students.

The research addresses the following specific questions:

1. Does CMIT have an impact on the facilitators’ professional knowledge? If so, what changes?

2. Is the training programme for facilitators effective? If so, in what ways? If not, what should be changed?

3. Does CMIT have an impact on teachers’ professional knowledge? If so, what changes?

4. What experiences and factors do teachers report as influencing these changes?

5. Do teachers perceive that changes in their professional knowledge have an impact on their classroom practices? If so, how?

6. What progress do students make on the Learning Framework for Number?

7. Is progress linked to initial levels of development? If so, in what ways?

8. Does the decile and region of the school or the ethnicity of the students have an impact on the progress made? If so, in what ways?

Key Findings

· The results from the CMIT pilot project have been impressive. There was clear and positive growth in the five aspects of number assessed, irrespective of students’ age and ethnicity and school region and decile. It also appears that this growth is the result of involvement in the project, since the improvements are greater than those expected as a result of time alone.

· By the time of the final assessment, most of the students had advanced at least one stage in each aspect of the Learning Framework for Number.

· Although similar gains were made by all students, there are marked differences between subgroups of students, when their number profiles, expressed as stages on the Learning Framework for Number, are compared. The decile of the school and the ethnicity of the students are strongly related to the number profiles, with the latter being higher if students are of European or Asian descent or if the students attend a higher decile school.

· Participating teachers developed their professional knowledge as a result of their involvement in the project. An increased understanding of the Learning Framework for Number and an increased focus on students’ number strategies were seen as key elements of this developing knowledge.

· Teachers changed their classroom practices to accommodate their new knowledge and understandings. The use of the Schedule for Early Number Assessment (SENA) as an assessment tool was vital to these changes, as it enabled teachers to assess students accurately, to group them accordingly, and to focus their teaching on new learning.

· Participating teachers were overwhelmingly positive about the project, and their enthusiasm for and confidence in teaching mathematics increased. CMIT was regarded as an excellent professional development initiative.

· All but one of the principals commented strongly on the positive impact of the project on the participating teachers’ mathematics programmes. The majority of principals noted that teachers were able to be more systematic in their teaching of number and to tailor teaching and learning to students’ needs.

· The overall response from parents was positive.

· The majority of facilitators commented positively on the development of their own professional knowledge in relation to how junior class students develop number strategies and knowledge. They were also very supportive of the professional development model adopted by the project.

Recommendations

· A large number of teachers and principals commented on the value of the CMIT pilot project and expressed their hope that the project would be extended to all New Zealand junior classrooms, as well as developed to include subsequent years of schooling.

· Many participants commented on the large amount of teacher time spent producing classroom resources. Centralised production and distribution of resources would be beneficial.


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