Helping Every Student Succeed - Levelling Up Numeracy Skills in Schools

'I feared Mathematics because I cannot understand most of the concepts. However, my teachers taught me new methods using algebra discs, volume cubes and other manipulatives and this has enabled me to visualise and enjoy Mathematics more,' said Jasper Tan.

Like some of his peers, the Secondary Two Normal (Technical) student in Bedok View Secondary School was fearful of Mathematics initially. He found it an extremely difficult subject, and learning through pen-and-paper alone did not suffice.

The Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach uses concrete manipulatives (such as algediscs, as seen in photo) to make learning a more hands-on experience.
To address these fears, his Mathematics teacher, Ms Safurah Abdul Karim would try to draw out the key concepts about a difficult topic by using the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) approach. The use of visual representations using concrete manipulatives (pictorial representations, interlocking cubes, fraction discs, measuring tools, etc) makes learning a more hands-on experience. She would then explain how the pictorial examples relate to concrete examples and demonstrate an efficient way to represent numerical operations.

'It is extremely important to help low-progress learners see, feel and touch Mathematics. Higher ability students are able to grasp concepts quickly, but low-progress learners need help in visualising concepts. This approach helps to create a motivating environment and improves the students' engagement and attitude towards learning the subject,' noted Ms Safurah, who was also the project coordinator for the levelling up effort for numeracy piloted in Bedok View Secondary School since 2012.

Levelling Up Effort for Numeracy
The levelling up effort for numeracy is being piloted in 14 primary schools and 15 secondary schools to extend support to students who lack the necessary numeracy skills. Both teachers, Mdm Tan and Miss Safurah are part of the pilot project in Bedok View Secondary School.
The levelling up effort for numeracy is being piloted in 14 primary schools and 15 secondary schools. Over the next two years, MOE will develop additional resources to extend support to primary and secondary students who lack the necessary numeracy skills. This will extend beyond the Learning Support Programme for Mathematics (LSM) currently provided to the bottom 5% of the Primary One cohort in every school. To provide the children with a firmer foundation in numeracy, LSM will also be extended to Primary Two pupils.

To find out more about LSM, click here.
At Bedok View Secondary School for example, the levelling up effort for numeracy focuses on addressing learning gaps, language and motivation of low-progress students. Teachers customise lessons for these students by adhering to relevant guiding principles, such as creating a motivating environment, using explicit and direct instructions, simplifying and building on the understanding of complex concepts, communicating and reminding students of the key terms used in specific topics.

Intervention strategies such as small group teaching enables slow-progress learners to grasp complex concepts better. To provide specialised help for more students to achieve a higher level of competency in literacy and numeracy, 600 teachers will be deployed to schools with needs in these areas. Coupled with key intervention strategies such as small group teaching, remediation and co-teaching; every child will have the opportunity to build their competency and confidence, regardless of their background and pace of learning.


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