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Research confirms students maths improvements

11 August 2004 Media Statement

Research confirms students maths improvements

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released four research reports showing that students' maths skills are improving thanks to the government's Numeracy Development Projects operating in schools from Years 1 to 10.

"Over the last four years, over 8000 teachers, most of them in primary schools, have been helped to be better at mathematics themselves and to be better maths teachers for their 240,000 students,” Trevor Mallard said.

"The numeracy programmes are an important part of our government's commitment to raise students' achievement across the board. We know that internationally our 15 year-olds do perform well - they are fourth in the OECD for numeracy skills - but that there are groups of students who need more help.

“The reports I am releasing today are from some of our top academic maths specialists and they show that the projects are doing exactly what we hoped they would.

“They show that teachers are growing in confidence and expertise and their students are reaping the benefits. It’s great to see that all students, regardless of gender, ethnicity and the decile of their school, have been benefiting from the numeracy projects," Trevor Mallard said.

The reports are being released to coincide with our celebration of Maths Week. Teachers, children and parents will be having extra fun and creativity participating in mathematical puzzles, games and activities.

“The week provides an excellent opportunity for the whole community to test their numerical skills.”

The reports cover:

- Years 0 to 3 (Dr Gill Thomas and colleagues at Dunedin College of Education);

- Years 4 to 6 (Dr Joanna Higgins of Wellington College of Education);

- Years 7 to 10 (Dr Kay Irwin and associates at the University of Auckland);

- Patterns of Performance and Progress in the Numeracy Projects (Dr Jenny Young-Loveridge, University of Waikato)

"Putting the four sets of research findings together shows that at all levels of schooling up to Year 10, better teaching and learning in mathematics has been observed," Trevor Mallard said.

“There have been particular improvements in addition, subtraction and multiplication skills at various levels, and evidence that students in the project have been learning better than those not yet involved.

“So far about 1400 schools have been involved, and the government has approved funding for the next three years to ensure that the majority of other schools and their students can participate.”

The reports are available on

Attached is the list of Numeracy Projects for 2004


The Numeracy Projects 2004

- This government is spending $11 million in 2004 on numeracy initiatives. Since 2000 $26 million has been invested in numeracy and mathematics initiatives.

Numeracy Professional Development Projects

- These aim to improve student achievement in mathematics, by improving classroom teaching at all levels. The projects:

o improve teacher confidence through addressing content knowledge and understanding of effective teaching and learning in mathematics.

o are based on recent research in New Zealand and internationally.

o include an extensive workshop programme and facilitators who then provide considerable in-class support.

- The projects are: Early Numeracy Project (ENP) for years 0-3; Advanced Numeracy Project (ANP) for years 4-6; Intermediate Numeracy Project (INP) for years 7-8; Te Poutama Tau - a project for teachers in Mâori immersion settings; and Secondary Numeracy Project (SNP) which will begin in 2005.

- $1million annually through to 2007 has been allocated to ensure all primary and intermediate teachers have the opportunity to participate.

- By the end of 2004 about 14,000 teachers and 300,000 children will have participated in all of these projects.

Numeracy Project Assessment (NumPA)

- The Numeracy Project Assessment (NumPA) is an integral part of the new teaching approach. Through their professional development teachers learn to use the assessment as part of their regular classroom teaching.

- The NumPA results are entered on a national website database and record students’ progress. Schools can access the national data to establish targets for planning and reporting purposes.

- Teachers group students according to ability and use activities that will support students in both strategy and knowledge development.

Support materials for schools

- About $6 million has been spent on resources for schools since 2000.

- 53 booklets are available in the Figure It Out series - 35 have been translated for teachers in Maori medium settings and published as the He Tau Ano Te Tau series. Further booklets are being developed and translated.

- is the Ministry's maths resource centre offering support for the teaching of mathematics at levels 1-6 of the curriculum. It provides principals and teachers with access to all numeracy project information and materials which are constantly updated. The site also has links to other mathematics websites for teachers, children and parents. The web-site traffic has expanded exponentially each year.

- The literacy and numeracy test asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning) are tests that enable teachers in years 5-7 to track the progress and achievement of both individual students and groups of students against national literacy and numeracy standards, and then target teaching to address students' weaknesses. Tests will be available for years 8 – 10 by December 2004.

Special numeracy projects in schools

- Five of the Ministry of Education’s schooling improvement projects focus on improving numeracy at all levels. These are the project involving all Kawerau schools, and three Auckland-based projects in Manurewa, Waitakere and Mt Wellington/Panmure (Tamaki).

- Schools participating in professional development linked to Iwi Partnership agreements are encouraged to participate in Te Poutama Tau. Iwi involved in this way in 2004 include Ngäti Porou, and Ngäpuhi. Tuwharetoa propose to join Te Poutama Tau in 2005.

Evaluations and Research

- Each numeracy project is independently evaluated and researched. The evaluation reports are available online at


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