An easy decision…

When we introduced Accelerated Reader in 2010, we saw the value of the Star Reading assessment straight away, because it’s reliable and gives us easily-accessed and extremely informative reports. We were using the Star Reading assessment to monitor reading and track progress, and it was so successful that we decided we wanted the same for numeracy. This is what drove us to investigate and then implement Accelerated Maths (AM) in 2012. Given that the assessment aspect and the reports generated from Star Reading and Star Maths are predominantly the same, we’re now able to look at assessment from both subject areas in the same format and context.

As with all schools, a constant challenge is catering for the wide range of abilities within each class. The way that AM easily allows us to differentiate work for the children is invaluable, and this was another thing that drew us to it. As well as this, AM can be easily accessed from home so parents can participate in their child’s learning. This aspect was particularly important to us, as we place great value in involving parents in the homework and education process.

So, all in all, it was an easy decision to implement Accelerated Maths, and it has been working successfully for us since we made that decision in 2012.

One of the key strengths of AM is that it can very much be used in a range of different ways to suit both the school and the teacher.

…And an easy implementation!

The fact that many of the teachers had experience of using Star Reading for Accelerated Reader meant that Star Maths was easily understood.

One of the key strengths of AM is that it can very much be used in a range of different ways to suit both the school and the teacher. We really benefit from the regular staff training from Renaissance – it allows us to be trained on specific aspects of the programme so we can see the impact of Accelerated Maths more and more. It’s an important element to ensure we get the best results.

Using Accelerated Maths day to day

AM allows teachers to set a list of maths objectives which are automatically generated into ten-minute practices for the children to do. At the beginning of term, our teachers enter all the objectives they’ll be teaching and release them week by week as they teach them. Our pupils engage in the 10-minute practices at different times during the day like during registration time, as a second activity in numeracy lessons, and as a homework activity. This approach has worked better for us than simply scheduling an “AM lesson” during the day.

We use Star Maths to assess the children five times throughout the year: in September, October, December, February and May. The assessment only takes 20-25 minutes to complete, so it’s quick and easy to administer, whilst the computer-adaptive nature of the assessment means children aren’t sitting through 24 difficult questions – it’s a lot less stressful for them. The results from the Star Maths assessment feed into Accelerated Maths and identify the level at which every child should be working.

The Star Maths assessment makes it easy to identify children who need an intervention in maths, and the impact of the interventions we put in place is easily tracked and monitored using the Growth Report. Teachers have also said that using Star Maths data alongside their own judgement gives them more confidence to group children together by ability, making it much easier to see exactly where they sit in comparison to each other.

Significant changes

Since we implemented Accelerated Maths, we have seen some big changes in the school…

The ‘summer slide’: In an effort to address the all too common ‘summer slide’ (the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer holidays), we focused on providing our P6 children with the opportunity to engage in some practice maths work over the summer: in order to ensure that they returned to school fully prepared for P7. We used AM to give each child a list of maths objectives they could work on in their own time and pace over the holidays. As their work was marked for them, they and their parents could quickly see the questions they got wrong. Our subsequent assessment and test scores showed that this had a very positive effect! We’ve also found the children are now much better at doing short, focused multiple-choice questions – the format used by AM as well as in many other assessments the children undertake.

Time-saving: Previously, we would have spent a long morning going through maths homework and giving a long, written explanation. Now, we set at least one homework a week to be completed on Accelerated Maths – in doing this, teachers are able to see exactly which child has struggled with what and speak to them directly while the rest of the class continue with something else. AM’s easy-to-create and automatically-marked homework tasks have alleviated the creation, photocopying and marking that we used to do! Accelerated Maths also allows us to easily create assessments which can be saved and easily edited for following years. Like homework tasks, they are marked by the computer and the percentage score for each child is calculated for us. The system also identifies the percent of the class who find a particular concept difficult – this is invaluable for the teachers, making planning easier and saving them time.

Consistency: When children move up into the next year group, their Star Maths data is passed on to their new teacher. This ensures that in September, all our teachers have an accurate picture of all their children’s numeracy ability from the start.

Parents: The range of data produced from Star ensures we have good, reliable information that can be shared with parents throughout the year. We currently share this information with our parents along with the results of our six-weekly assessments.

Accelerated Maths has had a major impact in our school and permeates so many different aspects of numeracy. Having a programme that not only benefits the children, but also supports the parents and teachers, is absolutely crucial to us as a school.

What next?

What else can you do with Accelerated Maths?! Well, now that the programme is firmly embedded in our school, we’re seeking to develop it further and increase its impact. Keep reading for some Accelerated Maths inspiration!

Time 4 Maths: We currently run a ‘Time to Read’ programme to help children who need support with reading. Volunteers from the community visit the school once a week to work one-on-one with them. We aim to replicate this in Numeracy by using the Star Maths data and establishing a ‘Time 4 Maths’ initiative, where children work with volunteers on their areas of weakness in maths.

Afterschool booster club: We regularly take a large number of student teachers. In future, we aim to establish an afterschool booster club with these trainee teachers to focus on groups of children who require support in certain areas of numeracy.

Celebrating success: We’re very good at rewarding success in Accelerated Reader, and this is something we’d like to replicate more in AM. The great thing about AM is that targets are differentiated according to their ability, meaning they are all achievable, and teachers don’t need to spend time tailoring targets for each child.

New reports: New reports have been added to AM recently and we’d like to utilise these! The new Class Planning Report enables teachers to see their class groups’ ‘designated focus skills’. This will allow us to be aware of what the children need to master in order to progress or what building blocks they are missing in their knowledge. It’ll also be beneficial when we target a specific group of children for intervention.

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