Direct Instruction in Key Stage 3 Connecting Maths Concepts

Jennie Harland, Suzanne Straw, Lorna Jones and Afrah Dirie

16 April 2021

Research report on the EEF website

The Direct Instruction (DI) Connecting Maths Concepts (CMC) programme, developed in the United States, is a core-instruction maths programme for primary-aged students. CMC comprises scripted lessons and assessments, designed to provide explicit and systematic instruction on fundamental concepts in maths. 

This pilot study explored the promise and feasibility of the CMC programme when targeted at students in Years 7-9 in English secondary schools with low prior attainment in maths. The pilot study involved 189 students from eight secondary schools.

The evaluation found preliminary evidence that the CMC programme increased students’ confidence in maths understanding and ability, particularly in Year 7. However, the perceived effectiveness of the programme elements was mixed. DI instructors and students were positive about the sequenced structure of the programme, clear explanations of maths concepts, feedback, mastery, and the motivation system. However, the lack of differentiated content, choral responding, and repetition were regarded as less effective elements, and could lead to low-level behavioural challenges although these appeared to abate over the course of the pilot. The lack of alignment to the KS3 maths curriculum was also a concern when the programme fully replaced usual maths lessons.

Pilot schools generally found the CMC programme feasible to deliver, although they faced some logistical challenges in meeting implementation criteria. The study concluded that the DI KS3 CMC programme is not ready for trial as implemented in the pilot, and modifying the programme to address the issues encountered would undermine the integrity of the programme. It may be that delivering a DI-based programme (such as Corrective Mathematics) as a supplementary intervention in addition to the main KS3 curriculum may be a more effective option in the English context.

More general information about the project can be found here.