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Mathematics Inquiry in the Kapiti Collaborative

The Kapiti Collaborative Mathematics Pedagogy working party addressed the achievement challenge of why students in the middle and upper achievement bands were not appearing to make significant progress.Through the use of evidence in the form of student achievement information, teacher and student voice, and the inquiry process, they identified three areas for further investigation.

Year level: Year 0-12

Cluster type:  Mathematics Lead Teachers and other interested teachers

Context:  Mathematics

Research model used:  BES exemplar case study for mathematics.  http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/topics/bes/bes-exemplars


Intentions:  To improve student achievement in mathematics through teacher inquiry.


  • Multi-levelled grouping for mathematics?
  • Mathematics progression from primary to secondary school – what’s important?
  • Content workshops linked to student achievement and teacher/student survey around mathematics – proportional thinking, rich mathematical tasks, Mathematics Best Evidence Synthesis – what is effective practice?  Formative assessment in mathematics, Mathematics National Standards and OTJs.


Impact on students/teachers/whanau 

  • Teacher resource document created and online for all Kapiti teachers which tracks 14 key mathematical concepts through from early primary through to late secondary. 
  • All teachers involved in individual inquiries around a mathematics question or mathematics achievement issue.
  • Observation of teacher practice and feedback between schools around effective mathematics practice.
  • Rich mathematical tasks designed and shared between schools.
  • School documentation such as implementation plans and assessment schedules and tasks shared, reviewed and critiqued between schools.
  • Video of teacher practice shared between schools and critiqued.
  • Significant shifts in classroom practice – links to Roberta Hunter’s work around argumentation and classroom discussion in mathematics.
  • Students grouped in mixed ability grouping – students leading learning for other students – links to Roberta Hunter’s work.  Impact on student achievement displayed at final presentation meeting.  Most students had shifted 2-3 whole numeracy stages.


Impact reflections from two KC primary schools: School A

  • Experimenting in the school with grouping children together at all levels, rather than streaming – looking at promoting more mathematics discussions, practical tasks and relating to real-life contexts (not necessarily grouping to achievement) – using rich tasks
  • Everything that we have done in our sessions has been fed back as Professional Development for the staff (Waikanae School)
  • Introduced and created our own Rich Tasks Folder – covering all strand/number topics
  • Focused in our school on building confidence teaching Fractions, Decimals and Percentages (and Ratios) and promoting more of this teaching at a junior level – asking teachers to seek support if they need help
  • Looked at the Curriculum and the standards – (fractions, decimals and percentages) and created a new goal for the school emphasising what should be taught/exposed at each curriculum level
  • Looked at and promoting exposure to upper level thinking or next stage in I Can’s even if children are not quite ready (for exposure)
  • Booklets have been created as information for parents for each stage in Numeracy and is planned to do in strand – and has been placed on the website with links to games and activities parents can use to support learning
  • New resources have been bought and promoted
  • Links made with year 9/10 expectations so year 7/8s and below know where they are headed in their learning
  • To be sustained with on-going discussions and promotion within school with PD provided as and when need arises.


School B:

  • While it is difficult to tell at this stage as we have not redone tests like PAT and other school wide data has not been collated or analysed, we have noticed changes in the type of talk that students engage in.  For example, students are using appropriate mathematical language to describe their thinking.  We believe that this will result in increased engagement and achievement in mathematical tasks.
  • Sustained through the use of timetabled meetings to discuss mathematics.  People who have leadership roles within the group will continue to have leadership roles in this area.  People have stepped up and taken on greater responsibilities, eg running staff or syndicate meetings and this will continue next year.


Impact reflections from one KC secondary school:


  • No immediate effect on student performance but I anticipate improvements in the longer term.


  • We are increasing the usage of rich mathematical tasks and the discussions and focusing in on a more unified strategy for work in algebra and number.


  • The discussions we have had with the primary school have really helped us to understand where the students are coming from in terms of their mathematics. It has also caused us to re-evaluate some of our teaching.


  • The morning sessions and the visiting speakers have both been valuable in re-invigorating our teaching, particularly of the juniors.


  • It has been one of the most valuable PD opportunities I have had.


  • Thanks for sharing your expertise and perspectives with us and I hope we can continue the work we have started this year.