Mathematics matters

Ground-breaking research in western NSW public schools has led to a maths intervention strategy that may improve student results in numeracy in as little as 12 months.

Over two years, NSW Western region maths consultants Alice Lockrey and Judith Selby conducted research into the band level of NAPLAN questions with teams of teachers from 19 local schools.

A book The Answer is NOT 42 which documents the research project was launched last week.

Western NSW regional director Carole McDiarmid said the research highlighted how mathematics was about the way students thought and not just what they knew and could do.

"The action research conducted in our Western NSW region public schools identified, in a way that has not been done before, the importance of this thinking," Mrs McDiarmid said.

"It will enable teachers to identify where students are and plan even more effective teaching that should result in more students getting higher bands in NAPLAN numeracy tests.

"The researchers anticipate the difference could become apparent in as little a 12 months."

Sophistication in mathematical thinking

Ms Lockrey said the research identified a continuum of sophistication in mathematical thinking for students as they engaged with written mathematics.

She said teachers could identify where students were at on the continuum and plan effective teaching that would move their students forward from that point.

"The research will better enable teachers to help each individual student achieve the next step in the developmental pathway for high-order learning in mathematics," she said.

Mrs McDiarmid said principals and teachers were keen to engage in the research.

"Universities which have taken an interest in this research have acknowledged that no one has previously used NAPLAN in this way to develop strategies for improvement in numeracy performance," she said.

"Parents will also benefit because it will deepen the quality of discussion between teachers and parents by offering more specific information about their child's numeracy learning."

Schools involved in the The Answer is NOT 42 research include:

  • Broken Hill North Public School
  • Broken Hill Public School
  • Coonamble High School
  • Coonamble Public School
  • Cudgegong Valley Public School
  • Gooloogong Public School
  • Grenfell Public School
  • Lithgow Public School
  • Morgan Street Public School
  • Oberon High School
  • Oberon Public School
  • Peak Hill Central School
  • Quandialla Central School
  • Railway Town Public School
  • The Henry Lawson High School
  • Tottenham Central School
  • Trangie Central School
  • Tullamore Central School
  • Wyangala Dam Public School



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