The Top-Top Set Maths Project aims to stretch good maths students by establishing top-top sets that are more challenging than a standard top set. This year, we had 13 schools running top-top sets in Year 7, 6 schools running top-top sets in Year 8 and 3 schools running top-top sets in Year 9.
How do we measure impact?
We rely heavily on the UKMT Maths Challenges to measure impact, because they are annual, national and independently set. Moreover, they test exactly the sort of problem-solving skills that we are trying encourage.
We establish a total score for each school year, based on the number and types of certificates earned by students: we award 1 point for a bronze certificate, 2 points for silver, 3 points for gold and a bonus point for a Kangaroo qualification.
We then compare this to a benchmark score, based on the UKMT Maths Challenge results achieved prior to the arrival of a top-top set. When the comparison is made, we take into account changes in the size of the year group.
This table summarises the results
We worked out a percentage improvement for each year group in each school, and then worked out the average across all our schools for Year 7, then Year 8 and then Year 9 to obtain the following results:
It seems that the effect of top-top sets increases with each year, perhaps because students gradually adjust to the idea that challenging mathematics can be interesting and enjoyable.
We are confident that our Year 8 results will improve next year, as some of the 2018/19 Year 8 top-top sets had not been through a top-top set experience, whereas the 2019/20 Year 8 cohort will all have been through a Year 7 top-top set experience.
The Year 9 results are extraordinary, but we should point out that there is a degree of extrapolation, because one of three schools had not previously invited Year 9 students to tackle the Intermediate Maths Challenge. However, without doubt, our Year 9 top-top set students across our three schools outperformed the top set students in Year 11, which is an amazing achievement: