Monthly Archives: June 2017

Operation Maths – Improving standardised test scores?

Category : Uncategorized

Two days after the maths standardised tests were done in our school, a teacher on my staff came to me to let me know that 18 children in her room had gone up by a STen of 1 or more, a fact she was attributing to Operation Maths, which was being used throughout the school for the first time, since the previous September.

This information made me curious to see were there similar results in other class levels; below is a summary table of my findings:

Average Percentile for each class level, current and previous years in Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test – Revised (DPMT-R):

Current Class 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Difference 2016 to 2017
2nd 55 61 +6 PR
3rd 63 61 77 +16 PR
4th 66 61 70 79 +9 PR
5th 63 61 58 68 68 +0 PR
6th 42 53 73 75 75 75 +0 PR

These results only include the classes that had a previous DPMT-R to which a comparison could be made. Also, they are the average of all the children’s results that completed the tests in each year, therefore other variables like children of different ability joining or leaving the school hasn’t been accounted for. However, they do make for interesting reading, while also raising interesting questions:

  • 2nd, 3rd and 4th have made significant jumps, (3rd class in particular); could this be accredited to the Operation Maths programme (there were no other new initiatives this past year due to the freeze on the SIP for numeracy as directed by our union)?
  • 5th and 6th classes stayed the same; why wasn’t the programme as effective for these classes? In the case of this school, perhaps the scores being already quite high in those classes meant there was little room for improvement. Or perhaps, because Operation Maths is a radically different programme, one that requires an openness to change the way we think about maths, it has more impact on younger classes where the children are more malleable and less rigid in their way of thinking than some of the older students. If this is the case, could we then expect to see improved results also for 5th and 6th class students in the future when they have been using the programme from 2nd and 3rd class?


Of course, this is only a small insight into one school’s experiences, and to have more conclusive results, data would need to be collected from a wider range of schools and this data would need to be monitored over time to see if these results were maintained. However, it does raise some interesting questions, and does indeed appear to indicate tentative evidence that Operation Maths can have a positive impact on the standardised test scores of all the children in a class. That said, improving test scores was never the main goal of Operation Maths, rather the aim is for the children to understand maths, not just do maths.  And if standardised test scores increase simultaneously, then that indeed is a positive bonus!

Did you use Operation Maths for the first time this year? Have you seen any similar trends with classes in your school? Please share with us!

Post script: Some may also suggest that Operation Maths has question items that better prepare the children for those in the test (i.e. teaching to the test). Having deliberately tried to be as unfamiliar as possible with the  DPMT-R test when authoring Operation Maths, means I can’t comment either way as I just don’t know if the question items resemble test items. Personally, I have no experience of the SigmaT at all, and at the time of authoring Operation Maths,  the only DPMT-R that I had administered in the previous 6-8 years was the DPMT-R for 5th class.


Maths by Month – September

Category : Uncategorized

It’s a new school year! And with it comes the first in a new series of posts designed to explore the Operation Maths topics on a month-by-month basis, giving teachers greater insights into the concepts at hand, when they are most relevant.

In each monthly overview, there will be links to other topic-specific posts and articles, as well as a whole host of extra suggestions, links etc. To ensure you don’t miss out on any future Maths by Month blog-posts, please subscribe to the blog via email, on the top right hand of this page.

Operation Maths Jr Infs to 2nd classes:

  • First and Second classes will also be looking at ordinal numbers (first, second, third etc) in Number: Comparing and Ordering. There is a list of online interactive games here and there are lots of useful videos on YouTube etc; just search for “ordinal numbers”.
  • Operation Maths users can also access a class specific, month-by-month list of relevant links and online resources via the Weblinks document, accessible on 
    1. Log into your edcolearning account
    2. Click on the At School Book for your class level.
    3. Click on the Edco Resources icon (on book cover image on left-hand side)
    4. Select Weblinks from list of categories and then click to download the document.
  • Also accessible on  are the custom-made digital resources to support these topics. These will all be viewable when you click on the Edco Resources icon as directed above.

Operation Maths 3rd to 6th classes:

Click on each link below to access more in-depth information and links on each of the topics for this month.

Other suggestions for September:

  • Check out the “Maths and me” attitudes questionnaire, situated after the last assessment in the Operation Maths Pupil Assessment booklet for 3rd to 6th classes. Suggest to the children that they fill this using a particular colour on one of the first days of the school year to be then revisited later in the year. At this point, the children can again record their attitudes in a different colour and reflect upon any changes they made, if any.
  • Maths about me: another great activity for the start of a new school year. The children write facts about themselves that are appropriate to their ability eg height, age, shoe size, telephone number, distance from school (use google maps), time that they get up or go to bed etc. This can be recorded on the inside front cover of the discovery book, filled in on a pre-made template from the internet, used to make a large class display or even become a more complex problem solving activity in the more senior classes.
  • Inspire your class for the year ahead: Most people have this belief that there is such a thing as a maths brain, a belief which Jo Boaler, among others, strongly challenges. In conjunction with her youcubed team at Stanford University, in 2015 they put together resources, videos etc for a Week of Inspirational Maths and followed that up with a Week of Inspirational Maths 2 and 3 in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The latter two have lessons and activities aimed at infants to 6th, as well as second level. Click on the link for an overview of the activities in Week of Inspirational Math, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to access all the resources; K-2 roughly align with Infants to 2nd and Grades 3-5 roughly align with 3rd-6th classes.
  • New year, new initiative! Number Talks is an excellent maths methodology that is gaining traction globally, and more recently, nationally thanks to the promotion of the PDST. Better still, the rationale behind it aligns itself very closely with the underlying principle of Operation Maths, that is teaching children to understand maths, not just do maths. To find out more about number talks and to access a whole suite of ready-made resources for all class levels just click on the link above.

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