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Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics – Framework for Action

Special report

This week, Curriculum Leadership publishes a summary of the Queensland Government’s new action plan, Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics – Framework for Action 2007–2010.

Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics – Framework for Action 2007–2010 aims to improve numeracy education in primary and secondary classrooms throughout Queensland’s State school system. The framework complements Literacy framework for action 2006–2008: Literacy the key to learning.

The numeracy framework aims to ensure that teachers and schools have the knowledge, skills, leadership and support to teach numeracy, not just in mathematics lessons but across all areas of learning. Teachers are to be supported through professional development programs, including teacher resource and training packages.

The Numeracy Framework for Action focuses on four elements in improving outcomes for all students: understanding numeracy; teacher knowledge and pedagogy; numeracy across the curriculum; and numeracy leadership. The four elements are interrelated and not discrete or hierarchical. They serve as entry points for considering and acting on the issues that affect students’ numeracy learning.

Actions have been developed to respond to each of the identified elements. The responsibility for these actions has been divided between the system, individual regions and schools.

Understanding numeracy

The framework aims to establish a common language for discussion of numeracy. This includes an agreed definition of numeracy and a shared understanding of how numeracy relates to: mathematics and other key learning areas; literacy; other cross-curriculum priorities; and to current and emerging technologies.

It seeks to broaden the community’s awareness of the importance of students’ numeracy achievements beyond the definitions used in the national testing program, and to help parents and the broader community understand the purpose of numeracy skills in students’ long-term success and everyday contexts.

The framework requires Education Queensland to develop a communication strategy that provides a coherent and consistent message about numeracy, covering a range of purposes and audiences. Communication will involve the selection of appropriate media (including digital, web-based, print and video) to meet the needs of diverse audiences, including schools, school communities, parents, pre-service teachers and the broader Queensland community.

System accountability documents are to be reviewed to reflect a common language and shared understandings about numeracy. One responsibility will be to ensure consistency of representation of numeracy in state and national curriculum initiatives.

Regions of the Queensland education system will disseminate the communication messages, promote numeracy as a goal of schooling, support and encourage school-based professional development, and support National Literacy and Numeracy Week activities. Regions will also support schools to align mathematics and numeracy initiatives with consistent definitions, interpret school performance data reported to the community both at regional and school levels, and ensure that students acquire numeracy knowledge and practices relevant to the general demands of life.

Schools will enable professional development for staff around the definitions and distinctions between mathematics and numeracy, and engage the school community in discussions about the definitions. Schools will work with regional and district support structures to identify specific support needs.

Teacher knowledge and pedagogy

The framework aims to develop teachers’ understanding of mathematics content with respect to the nature of mathematics as a discipline, the mathematics topics they teach, and the relationship of those topics to further learning and everyday life. It also calls for teachers to understand the impact of information and communication technologies on the teaching and learning of mathematics.

The framework supports professional development in mathematics to improve teacher knowledge and confidence and pedagogies that foster positive student attitudes to mathematics. It aims to develop inclusive teaching strategies and establish an understanding that all students can be confident using mathematics. It recognises that students’ enjoyment in classroom mathematics influences their confidence with numeracy outside the classroom. It also recognises that the way it is developed in the mathematics classroom has significant influence on student confidence with numeracy outside this setting.

The framework aims to improve teacher knowledge of how students learn mathematical concepts. It calls for teachers to identify the learner’s current point of understanding of mathematical concepts and from there develop programs to meet student’s specific needs. The framework asserts that teachers should have high expectations for all students, and employ productive pedagogies and assessment for learning.

Professional development will support teachers’ ability to write valid, authentic and rigorous assessment tasks to align assessment with curriculum, teaching and reporting.

Education Queensland will create a professional development strategy and support materials. Current resources and research materials including material sourced through the Learning Place and Curriculum Exchange gateways; numeracy learning objects including those developed by The Le@rning Federation (TLF); outcomes of action research programs; and Australian Government numeracy reports will be audited, identified and promoted for teacher access.

Education Queensland will coordinate consistent system-wide implementation of the Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting (QCAR) Framework. It will allocate curriculum implementation professional development funds and facilitate collaborative activity across regions. Information showing how mathematics and other KLA syllabuses can promote numeracy will be developed and disseminated. The system will also provide advice on how mathematics and numeracy are situated in the elements of the QCAR Framework.

Regions manage implementation of mathematics syllabuses and the QCAR Framework across all schools and coordinate professional development for teachers. Schools facilitate teacher professional development in mathematics and numeracy by encouraging and supporting attendance at mathematics and numeracy professional development activities. Ensuring teachers have access to quality and relevant resources will foster a strong teaching and learning culture.

Numeracy across the curriculum

The framework aims to improve teacher understanding of numeracy across the curriculum to enhance student knowledge.

Teachers’ understanding involves developing critical thinking and fostering behaviours that enable students to make sense of numerical information in their world. It involves identifying the numeracy demands and opportunities in all learning areas across the curriculum, and supporting all teachers to use appropriate pedagogies to encourage the development of student numeracy.

Education Queensland will identify the numeracy demands of all key learning areas and phases of learning. Representation on committees and working parties will embed numeracy capabilities in formal curriculum documents. Through collaboration with other government agencies and community groups, Education Queensland will emphasise numeracy's role in developing students’ consumer and financial literacy; in enhancing their understanding of ICT; and in equipping them more broadly for everyday life.

Regions will incorporate numeracy demands and opportunities when supporting schools’ collaborative planning activities in all phases of learning and in all key learning areas. Schools will build capacity in staff to recognise numeracy demands and opportunities within the curriculum. This capacity will be fostered by undertaking collaborative planning around numeracy.

Numeracy leadership

This area involves building positive cultures and high expectations in schools, so that all students can succeed in mathematics and be numerate.

The framework aims to create structures and cultures that focus on professional development for teachers and their leaders. It highlights the need to provide resources, time and space for teachers to reflect on, and be effective in, their practices, and to develop an appreciation of their role in preparing numerate citizens. Likewise, it will also incorporate a numeracy focus in the professional development opportunities offered to teacher aides and other support staff.

Developing leadership capacity in using data will inform planning for numeracy and thus allow management of curriculum and pedagogical changes  to build teacher capacities.

Education Queensland will promote and support strong partnerships with universities and professional associations in their pre-service and in-service education roles. New opportunities for collaboration in ongoing research activities will be sought. Engaging in research partnerships and disseminating the findings will inform systemic and classroom planning. Building and maintaining strong partnerships with principals’ associations, other school leader professional associations and external agencies will support school leader groups to identify professional development needs and to develop programs.

Emphasising the status of numeracy as a system priority, Education Queensland will develop specific materials, tools, guidelines and professional development modules for school leaders to extend school capacity. Education Queensland will use data to inform planning; implement early intervention strategies for students identified as being at risk; manage curriculum change in the context of building teacher capacities; and support whole-school planning around numeracy.

Regions will help schools enhance school-based numeracy leadership amongst heads of department, heads of special education services, curriculum leaders, support teachers dealing with learning difficulties, and Year 2 Diagnostic Net key teachers.

Strong regional and district strategic leadership in numeracy will be developed.

Regions will also promote principals' professional development opportunities that incorporate numeracy learning. Regions will work with districts and schools to build the capacity of school leaders to improve numeracy outcomes through evidence-based school planning.

Schools will be expected to prioritise professional development for curriculum leaders. Schools will commit to and plan for professional development opportunities that incorporate numeracy learning, and prioritise budget allocations to enable attendance for school leaders at numeracy-related programs.

Numeracy Reference Group

Implementation of the Numeracy Framework for Action will be informed by a departmental reference group comprising representatives from Education Queensland, professional associations and universities.

The Numeracy Reference Group will support, facilitate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Numeracy Framework for Action, reporting outcomes to the Minister for Education and Training and Minister for the Arts.

Enquiries regarding the Numeracy Framework for Action may be addressed to John Boustead, Manager, Curriculum Division
Education Queensland, email:
John.BOUSTEAD@deta.qld.gov.au.

Key Learning Areas

Mathematics

Subject Headings

Numeracy
Queensland
Educational planning
State schools