QuickSmart Numeracy (QuickSmart) is an intensive 30-week one-to-one tutoring intervention to increase fluency and automaticity in mathematics for students performing in the bottom third of their cohort.
The program removes students in pairs from class for three 30-minute sessions a week. Lessons begin with a review of the focus facts, starting with those already known, and moving on to those yet to be remembered.
Teacher-led discussion and questioning about the relationship between number facts and ways to recall them merge into simple mathematics fact practice activities. Flashcards and timed performance activities assist students to develop automatic recall. In the last part of the lesson, students practise their skills independently on carefully selected worksheets that are closely related to the lesson content.
QuickSmart is delivered by school executives, teachers and teacher aides who have been trained in a Professional Learning (PL) program. QuickSmart Professional Learning has a strong practical focus on cognition and neuroscience research. There are three two-day workshops in the first school year; three one-day workshops in the second year; and an optional single one-day workshop for the third and subsequent years.
Why are we funding it?
QuickSmart focuses on students who are under-performing academically, who are disproportionately likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are a key focus of the Learning Impact Fund's work.
QuickSmart is already operating at a large scale in Australia, so providing an independent evaluation of its effectiveness is likely to be highly valuable to schools leaders and policy makers.
What is the evidence to date?
Quicksmart has been evaluated continuously by the developers in every site where it is delivered, more than 1,200 sites across Australia.
In these studies,average effect-sizes for QuickSmart students against school-selected ‘average students’ are from .6 to .94, and extra 7-12 months’ progress for those students in a year.
Indigenous students benefit from the program to the same degree as non-Indigenous students and schools report increased engagement in class and increase attendance by Indigenous students.
How are we evaluating it?
The program evaluator, the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre at the University of Newcastle has recently run a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in NSW focused on the use of Quality Teaching Rounds to improve teachers’ classroom practice.
The trial will be structured as a waitlist control RCT, with students recruited separately from Year 4 and Year 8. The Year 4 and Year 8 cohorts will be treated as separate trials.
Each school will identify a pool of 24 students performing in the lowest third nationally in mathematics. 12 students will be randomly assigned to receive the QuickSmart intervention and the other 12 students will act as a business-as-usual control group.
Students will do a post-test six months after the intervention ends to determine whether QuickSmart gains are sustained beyond the end of the intervention.
Students in the control group will receive the QuickSmart intervention after the post-test.
The full trial protocol will be posted in the coming months.
When will the evaluation report be due?
The evaluation report is scheduled to be due in mid-2018.