Previous posts offer a more detailed explanation into what we have tried to create but in summary and itemised this is our progress so far:
By topic (There are 24 topics in Third Level):
- Course plan document written
- Learning intentions agreed
- Resources for teaching developed – especially in topics with pedagogical shifts
- Pupil tasks and worksheets developed and sourced for every learning intention (many individual learning intentions have a variety of resources)
- Rich tasks identified and written in to the course
- Diagnostic assessments for every learning intention
- Summative assessment for each topic created separately and compiled into an extensive ‘phase’ test
By phase (There are 5 phases in Third Level)
- Homework booklet created to support ‘every pupil, every night’ policy
- Summative assessments compiled with a fair balance of each topic to thoroughly assess & marking scheme created to ensure consistency
- Revision booklet created & accompanying solutions booklet for pupil use in their own time
- Pre-test AfL grid sheet for pupils to evaluation and focus their revision
- Post-test feedback sheets
- Post-test remediation work for further practice in order to achieve mastery.
- Members of the department attended MathsConf in Bristol and Sheffield.
- Stirling conference attended by a number of the department two years running
- Department colleagues participation in Glasgow Counts training
- Attendance at Mark McCourt Mastery course in Kendal
- Invitation extended for Bruno Reddy to visit department for a one day workshop on his experiences and ideas
- Reading/Research and sharing ideas at DM’s – a lot of reading on mastery, effective L&T
- More recently thinking has been on applying cognitive science and learning more about effective assessment strategies.
- A lot of conversations and correspondence with PTs in other schools
Why we think a mastery curriculum was right for us.
I have written and spoken at length about the problem we are addressing – a high number of our pupils are leaving without achieving National 5 after 13 years of education. As it stands, we have good S5 Higher results in sets 1 and 2 comparative with other Glasgow schools and satisfactory results for S5 National 5(set 3). However, sets 4 and below are achieving mainly National 4 in S5. The majority of set 4 are failing National 5 and then very few pupils manage to take their National 4 from S5 and achieve National 5 in S6.
Early aims for S5 attainment of the first mastery cohort:
Set 1 & 2: Mastery will enrich the experience of these pupils but is unlikely to make a significant impact on their results based on the strength of the demographic (*** +ve RV on insight). Nevertheless, we will always want to improve the number and quality of Higher passes. 70-80% of the 50-60 pupils presented will achieve an A/B result. Consistently 92% of these pupils achieve an A-C.
Set 3: The aim would be for an increase in quality N5 passes. At present we have a rate of 70% A-C passes in this set. I believe that with the right culture and foundation in learning & teaching, we should be looking at a 90% A-C rate from this class of 30. In the past, some of these pupils make the leap successfully to Higher in S6. An increase in numbers of those successfully making this progression would be a reassuring indicator of progress.
Set 4: Very few of these pupils have been passing N5 in S5 – 10-20% of this set achieving A-C. This is the class where we see the greatest level of underachievement due to poor attitude, poor work ethic, poor behaviour and poor retention. All of our previously discussed work on culture aims to address these barriers. Furthermore, by ensuring these learners have a successful BGE experience they should, in theory, be ready to embark upon N5 properly as opposed to the current situation where they sit in the class but lack many of the pre-requisite skills. I will not be bold enough to suggest a statistical aim here but this is the class where I will be able to confidently state four years from now that our changes and implementation have worked or failed.
Set 5: These pupils generally achieve National 4 and a National 5 Numeracy unit by S5. The pupils then return in S6 to attempt National 5 but fail. A realistic aim here would be to enable these pupils to have a better prospect of achieving a National 5 pass in S6.
Set 6 & 7: For these pupils the main aim is to equip learners with the highest possible level of qualification by exit and to give them essential numeracy for real life. Genuine(not spoon-feeding) achievement of National 4 for the majority of these pupils would be tremendous progress given that most arrive very insecure in Second Level, after 7 years of education.
Has the mastery curriculum worked so far? (Subjective Views)
Subjectively we “feel” that it is working, certainly, in terms of culture, things have improved. The homework return rate for our ‘every pupil, every night’ policy has been excellent this year. We have had no in-class revision and instead have issued extensive revision materials to be used by pupils in their own time. Classes have shown the initiative and resilience to study in all classes – they have been taking responsibility for their learning because we expect them to and we enable them to. Not every pupil has engaged fully but far more that would have been the case previously.
We have carried out pupil surveys and the results have been encouraging. I do not place a lot of emphasis on pupil voice as being a key evaluation tool regarding the effectiveness of learning & teaching. The main reason is that enjoyment and engagement are not good proxies for learning. Pupils struggle with this distinction. Nevertheless, I want to hear how the pupils perceive their experience and to understand the patterns that emerge. A few key points that came from this:
- Pupils realise they get homework every night and know why this happens
- Pupils feel that they have used the revision materials
- Pupils overwhelmingly are positive/neutral about their experience of maths (no change on before)
- More pupils in the previous year group (non-mastery) felt we went ‘too slow’. This is the surprising result! These pupils are from a year group who, for sets 3 and below, covered almost twice as much work! This contradiction perhaps confirms why we need to be careful when making judgement based on pupil perception.
Department colleagues also provided feedback. Some key points to emerge:
- Appreciate having less pressure to ‘get through’ the curriculum. Like the idea of covering less but with more depth.
- Lesson planning has been easier in so far as the course is comprehensively resourced with quality materials.
- Time has been required to study new pedagogies before teaching some topics.
- Perception that pupils can achieve more and that pupils are making better progress.
- Good uptake of homework
- While time has been spent talking, both in DMs and informally, colleagues felt they would like even more time to discuss subject specific learning and teaching.
Has it worked so far? Attainment figures
I feel it is too early to be drawing final conclusions from this data. We have the rest of Phase 5 to complete before we have completed study of Third Level.
Initially my thoughts are that this data is encouraging. If anything the vast majority of pupils are experiencing success. Previously vast swathes of the cohort were failing. The mean in set 1 was 69% last year (albeit on a different assessment). Our assessments are rigorous. I have uploaded to dropbox the decimals section of our phase two test for interest. I feel that we are assessing a comprehensive selection of basic and challenging questions from the breadth of the topic. We also test interleaving of other topics (order of operations, negatives and perimeter in this case). Each summative assessment has 4 or 5 of these topic sections and is taken over two days. For a pupil to achieve even 60% means they need to be able to do quite a lot of mathematics.
I have put the data here in the expectation that those reading will ask questions, challenge us and hopefully offer opinions regarding the validity of our positive feelings regarding the attainment thus far. Please do leave a comment below or send me a tweet!