Return to Top-Top Set Maths

2017/18 Top-Top Set Maths Results

Over the last 2 years, we have had 4 schools taking part in the Top-Top Set Maths Project. In 2016/17 these schools ran a Year 7 class, which grew into a Y8 class for 2017/18, and a new Y7 class joined.

One way to measure the impact of the Top-Top Set Maths Project (TTSMP) is to compare year by year the results from the Junior Maths Challenge (JMC), a test set by the UK Maths Trust. The UKMT JMC is a national exam, usually taken by stronger students, held annually, offered by most schools and marked independently.

Students sit an 60-minute paper and receive gold, silver and bronze certificates, if they score in the top 6%, 20% and 40% respectively. There is also a kangaroo-gold recognition for students in top 3%. This junior paper is sat by both Y7 and Y8 students, who therefore compete against each other for certificates.

If the TTSMP is to be successful, then it should increase the number of bronze, silver, gold and kangaroo-gold certificates.

In order to measure the impact of the project, each school has a benchmark result based on the certificates achieved in the year or years before top-top sets started. To quantify the benchmark and subsequent results, each kangaroo-gold is worth 4 points, each gold is 3 points, each silver is 2 points and each bronze is 1 point.

Below is a table of results (Year 7 only) for one of our schools, showing the data in the benchmark year and the data across the two years when the top-top sets have been running:

Certificate Benchmark 2016/17 2017/18
Kangaroo-gold 0 0 2
Gold 0 0 1
Silver 2 11 5
Bronze 8 12 6
Score 12 34 27

This table shows an exceptional improvement in achievement, and we believe it accurately reflects the improvement in this particular school. However, this format does not necessarily accurately portray the improvement in all of our schools, as changes in the size of the year group alone can drive an increase or decrease in the number of certificates. For example, results improved even more impressively at another school, but this improvement had been boosted because the year group had increased by 60% between the benchmark year and the following top-top set year.

Hence, each year group for each school is given a standardised score, which is the total number of points achieved (based on the number and type of certificates), divided by the size of the year group. The bar chart below shows the standardised scores averaged across all four schools. The chart shows the standardised benchmark scores for Year 7 and Year 8, illustrating how well schools performed before they started top-top sets. The chart also shows the standardised scores after top-top sets had been put in place in 2016/17 (Year 7) and 2017/2018 (Year 7 and Year 8).

The Year 7 improvement is 62%, and the Year 8 improvement is 108%. Because we have two Y7 cohorts and only one Y8 cohort in our four schools, the average improvement across both years is 77%.

The future

The project is growing, with thirteen schools running top-top sets in 2018/19. Our goal is to gather more data in order to show the cost-effectiveness (or not) of the top-top set model. If top-top sets are proven to be significantly increase the number of excellent maths students in non-selective schools, then the next goal is to run the model in hundreds of schools.

In the meantime, the charity Good Thinking is seeking financial support to fund the thirteen schools who are currently top-top sets. For each top-top set, schools receive a subsidy of £3,000/year.