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Review Methods

An exhaustive search considered hundreds of published and unpublished articles. It included those that met the following criteria:

  • Schools or classrooms using each programme had to be compared to randomly assigned or well-matched control groups
  • Study duration had to be at least 12 weeks
  • Outcome measures had to be assessments of the mathematics being taught in all classes. Almost all are standardised tests or state assessments.

The review placed particular emphasis on studies in which schools, teachers, or pupils were assigned at random to experimental or control groups.

Programmes were rated according to the overall strength of the evidence supporting their effects on maths achievement. “Effect size” (ES) is the proportion of a standard deviation by which a treatment group exceeds a control group. Large studies are those involving a total of at least 10 classes or 250 pupils.

The Full Report

The full report, which this review summarises, is Slavin, R.E., & Lake, C., (2008), Effective Programs for Elementary Mathematics: A Best Evidence Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 78 (3), 427-515.

Primary maths

What works in teaching maths?

As PDF document

Educator's summary

As PDF document

As web pages

Key findings

Top-rated programmes

Programmes with limited evidence

Other programmes

Review methods

Full report (113 pages)