Targeted teaching of Mathematics in Secondary Schools.

Year: 2017

Author: White, Bruce, O'Keefe, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The teaching and learning of Mathematics is without doubt on the political agenda. Some recent examples on the Australian Government Department of Education and Training website ( are, the introduction of the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students, funding projects such as the Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers Projects and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). These and many other reports and projects highlight the constant scrutiny of mathematics teaching.
One of the key points made from the 2015 TIMMS results was that 36% of Australian Year 8 students were at or below the low international benchmark and that there was a large gap in the achievement. This result has been supported by other studies which indicate that in year 8 there may be a range of up to 8 year levels (Siemon, 2016). One approach to cater for the wide range of achievement is the use of targeted teaching (Siemon, 2016). This is a data driven teaching approach where formative assessments are used to target the teaching of mathematics ( Stacey, Steinle, Gvozdenko, & Price, 2013). However targeted teaching can be implemented in a variety of ways. This presentation will report on a project that looked at two implementations of targeted teaching and sought to identify the strengths and weaknesses as indicated by the teachers involved in each implementation. Data was collected by observing the teachers in class and through interviews. In each case the teachers were asked to identify what they perceived to be the strengths and weaknesses of their approach and where possible to identify the effectiveness and sustainability of the approach. Data from the interviews was collated and grouped into themes by the researchers independently and then common elements were identified. The classroom observations were used to identify how / if these were enacted using targeted teaching. The research indicated that both approaches were effective but were also resource intensive. The effectiveness of the approach was also very teacher dependent and that teachers were not always familiar with targeted teaching or how to implement it.