This program has been developed by the South Australia Department for Education, based on its Teaching for Effective Learning Framework. The program aims to address a significant drop in mathematics performance in NAPLAN from Year 7 to Year 9.
The program supports Year 7 and Year 8 teachers in the deep learning of mathematical content as outlined in the Australian Curriculum Mathematics. In particular, the project focuses on the following three areas for better teaching and learning of mathematics:
- Quality task design;
- Sequencing of conceptual development and;
- Research-informed effective pedagogies
Five professional learning days are run over two terms by facilitators who model rigorous teaching and learning processes, undertaking tasks with multiple entry and exit points to differentiate the curriculum to cater for students with a wide range of mathematical experience and dispositions.
After each session teachers make a commitment to implement high gain strategy(ies) to improve student achievement and engagement. Between sessions, telephone, email and online platforms support teachers’ improvement efforts in a professional learning community. At each session after the first, there are three to four presentations from participants to share their experiences, successes and challenges.
Why are we funding it?
The South Australian Department of Education has identified the drop in mathematics performance between Year 7 and Year 9 as a critical state-wide issue and has designed this program in response to it.
In order to inform the Department’s understanding of the effect and cost-effectiveness of the program, a rigorous and independently-funded trial is useful. As a decline in mathematics performance is also evident in Australian students’ results more widely, the findings from this trial may be of interest to other Australian practitioners and policy makers, as well.
What is the evidence to date?
To date, there has been no rigorous evaluation of the impact this program has on student achievement in mathematics. The program however uses approaches which have a basis in research evidence, including meta-cognitive strategies (an average of 8 months’ impact).
Teachers in the program receive explicit feedback from peers on their instruction and feedback, on average, yields 8 months’ learning progress for students. Further, the professional learning has been designed with key findings from Timperly et al’s Teacher Professional Learning Best Evidence Synthesis (2007) in mind.
How are we evaluating it?
The program evaluator, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), is the leading independent Australian organisation in educational research. The trial will be structured as a clustered randomised control trial (RCT), with pairs of Year 7 and Year 8 Maths teachers recruited from 167 South Australian government schools. 120 recruited teachers (57 pairs and 6 individuals in 63 schools) will receive the intervention and the other 198 teachers (94 pairs and 10 individuals in the remaining 104 schools) will as act as a business-as-usual control.
When will the evaluation report be due?
The evaluation report is scheduled to be due in mid-2018.