Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

An Invaluable Resource in Star Maths at St Teresa’s Primary School

St Teresa's Primary School, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Following the success of Star Reading at the school making a positive impact on pupils reading development, headteacher terry oversaw the implementation of Star Maths to make the same impact on numeracy. Since then, we discovered the pupils at St Teresa’s had carried out 1,501 Star Maths assessments last academic year.

We spoke to Terry to find out why he put his trust with Star Maths and the subsequent difference it’s made to pupils’ numeracy development.

Terry Explains

 

“…we felt that Star Maths would be the perfect tool because the children can set targets that are specific to them and then work to achieve those targets at an individual level as well as at a whole-class level.”

Star Assessments get the job done

When we compare the performance of the children in the school in terms of literacy and numeracy, it is clear that some children were underperforming in numeracy. So we looked at various programmes to support pupils in that area. We already used Star Reading in the school to support children’s reading, and we needed that to be effective, so we decided to introduce Star Maths.

In particular, we noticed a specific group of children that were quite capable academically, but this was not reflected in their classroom work. So, we wanted to really stretch the more able children, and we felt that Star Maths would be the perfect tool because the children can set targets that are specific to them and then work to achieve those targets at an individual level as well as at a whole-class level. We recognised that Star Maths fits the bill!

With Star Reading, we know we have a framework that provides a rich plethora of information identifying each pupil’s unique reading comprehension level. In addition, we believe that the data from Star Reading is spot on in identifying children’s specific strengths or areas of weakness. So it was a no-brainer for us to look at Star Maths, and we could see instantly that the same impact potential would be for numeracy.

Now, we carry out our Star Maths assessments each half-term. In addition, we created our own template to record children who are underperforming in specific numeracy domains. For example, suppose the data from Star Maths repeatedly highlight pupils who are below benchmark and need urgent intervention. In that case, we can identify them quickly and offer support strategies using the suggested skills from Star Maths.

Once Star Maths identifies specific children or groups needing urgent intervention, we have allocated support staff who can withdraw them from their class and sit down with them to work on the intervention strategies provided by Star Maths.

The class teacher will also work on these intervention strategies with children below the benchmark, as we’ve worked hard to ensure that Star Maths is part of our daily curriculum experience. With Star Maths, the teacher can see which group to focus on and what support they can offer.

We’ve also ensured that all parents are updated and informed about their child’s numeracy development. We’ve familiarised parents with specific reports and suggested skills from Star Maths to ensure maths practice is continued at home.

We feel it is important to ensure all parties are collectively aware of every child’s individual target so that we can all help the child work toward it in and out of school. Once a child does achieve their target, we make a big point of celebrating this success widely throughout the school.

We have lots of displays and success stories throughout the school sharing the success of pupils and groups success in reading and maths. Classes who collectively meet their targets can earn special rewards, such as pizza parties, to celebrate success together.

With the first cohort, in which we started using Star Maths data to identify and support, we identified around 27% of pupils falling below the maths benchmark. Two years later, we’ve now reduced that down to 19%.

Evidence to back up the impact

With the first cohort, in which we started using Star Maths data to identify and support, we identified around 27% of pupils falling below the maths benchmark. Two years later, we’ve now reduced that down to 19%. So that’s a significant drop in the number of children working at a below benchmark standard.

Despite 22% of the children in St Teresa’s having an identified Special Educational Need, 11% of children are overperforming in numeracy, we believe this is because Star Maths has played a significant role in offering intervention strategies supporting the improvement.

Star Maths data also helps create an informed profile for every child. Particularly those special educational needs students who require an education plan. With these children, the focus is often on what they can’t do. So, it’s lovely to turn that on its head and, with Star Math’s data, celebrate what they can do. Furthermore, with Star Maths data, we can share this success with objective facts and figures rather than just anecdotally.

This evidence is now something they (teachers) can see, as they can measure the impact that Star Maths data has on the child’s development.

We can now sit down with parents and other key stakeholders and show tangible evidence of each child’s progress from where they were and where they are now in terms of numeracy development. Having this accurate data is excellent for teachers to celebrate, too, as it’s taken some time to embed this in the culture of the school’s assessment strategy. Now, teachers refer to this progress data daily; to win them over; they had to see the benefit. This evidence is now something they can see, as they can measure the impact that Star Maths data has on the child’s development.

Any time you allocate a certain amount of funding into a particular programme, you want to ensure that money is being used effectively and has an impact. With Star Maths, for the foreseeable future, we can not see that we will ever withdraw that funding.

Any time you allocate a certain amount of funding into a particular programme, you want to ensure that money is being used effectively and has an impact. With Star Maths, for the foreseeable future, we can not see that we will ever withdrawthat funding. We have earmarked long-term funding to renew Star Maths because we can see the positive impact it’s having on a wide range of children, from the weakest to the ablest. Now, all children at St Teresa’s feel a sense of success in numeracy regardless of whether they previously thrived in the subject.

Click here to find out how your school can utilise Star Maths to support your numeracy development strategy.


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