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Teacher programmes boost students’ math skills

27 June 2003 Media Statement

Teacher programmes boost students’ math skills

Education Minister Trevor Mallard released new research today that shows a significant boost in maths skills for thousands of years 0 to 10 students (ages 5 to 14), thanks to new professional development programmes for teachers.

Trevor Mallard released the three research reports on the Early Numeracy Project (years 0 to 3), Advanced Numeracy Project (years 4 to 6) and Numeracy Project for years 7 to 10 at Petone Central School, Wellington.

He also said the projects were now being extended to thousands more primary and intermediate teachers and students as a result of their success.

Petone Central School has more than 200 children taking part in the early and advanced projects (years 0 to 6), and Trevor Mallard visited the school today see the maths classes in action.

“Improving literacy and numeracy skills from early on is a key goal of this Government. We want to make sure that every single New Zealander, regardless of their background, has the right start in life so they can reach their full potential and contribute positively to the growing economy,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Our primary teachers have often lacked the confidence in maths. Now we have a wide range of teacher professional development projects in place that teachers say give them more skills and enthusiasm. This can only be a good thing for the students.”

According to the research on the early numeracy project, learning improvements were “greater than would have been expected prior to the project”.

“After just one year at school, 80 per cent of the pupils could count to solve addition and subtraction problems,” Trevor Mallard said.

The research also showed that teachers of more than 18,000 children in years 0 to three (five to seven year olds) were doing a better job at teaching maths, as a result of the professional development programme.

“We’re making the programme available to every teacher in this age group by 2005. This year 2150 teachers and 60,000 children will come on board. By 2005, more than 9000 teachers and 230,000 children will have participated in the project.

“ We’ve also told the people who train the teachers that all their graduates this year should be familiar with it.”

The research also found that the progress made by Pasifika children in maths in the first three years was considerably less than that of Maori and New Zealand European children.

“We will be putting real effort from now on into finding ways of teaching this group of students more effectively,” Trevor Mallard said.

In the Advanced Numeracy Project, the research showed positive results for the 54,000 students and 2000 teachers involved in 2002.

“The research found that there was an improvement in students’ number skills irrespective of age, gender and ethnicity. We are planning on extending this project to include even more teachers,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The Advanced Numeracy Project is this year being rolled out to another 1900 teachers, and about 50,000 children.”

More than 11,000 students from 700 schools were taught by teachers in the third project, numeracy for years 7 to 10 (ages 11-14) in 2002. Again, this project is being extended to another 350 teachers and about 10,000 children this year.

The research report on this project found between 30 and 57 per cent of students gained at least one stage on the nine-stage scale for numeracy skills.

“According to the research, this was better progress than would have been made without the project, and students in the project did significantly better in maths, than those who were not,” Trevor Mallard said.

“This project, along with the other two for primary school teachers, shows we are heading on the right track. But the research tells us we also need to do more work on teaching older students and especially those in lower decile schools, to become more proficient at multiplying and proportions.”

Trevor Mallard said the Ministry of Education was following up the recommendations made in the research studies.

Full copies of the research reports can be found on line at Te Kete Ipurangi:


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