Mathematics Mastery: Secondary Evaluation Report - February 2015

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Published in February 2015, this evaluation, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), assessed the impact of Mathematics Mastery on pupils in Year 7, after the programme had been implemented in schools for one year, with a view of schools continuing the approach until it was in place across the whole school. 44 schools from London and the South East participated in the trial, with a total sample of 5,938 pupils.

The Mathematics Mastery programme is a whole-school approach to teaching mathematics that aims to raise attainment for all pupils and close the attainment gap between pupils from low income families and their peers. The programme aims to deepen pupils’ conceptual understanding of key mathematical concepts. Compared to traditional curricula, fewer topics are covered in more depth, and greater emphasis is placed on problem solving and on encouraging mathematical thinking.

The evaluation found five key conclusions:

  1. On average, Year 7 pupils in schools adopting Mathematics Mastery made a small amount more progress than pupils in schools that did not. However, the effect detected was not statistically significant, meaning that it is not possible to rule out chance as an explanation.

  2. There is no strong evidence that the approach had a greater impact on lower-attaining pupils than on higher-attaining pupils.

  3. Combining the findings from this study and a second randomised controlled trial of Mathematics Mastery involving Year 1 pupils may strengthen the overall evidence for the approach.

  4. Given the low per-pupil cost, Mathematics Mastery may represent a cost-effective change for schools to consider. However, teachers would need to resolve tensions related to differentiation to provide support for all groups of children.

  5. It would be worthwhile to track the medium- and long-term impact of the approach, to assess whether there is a cumulative effect to the approach and whether it has an impact on performance in high-stakes tests.

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