Project to measure public Montessori programs' impact on low-income students
- Whether public Montessori programs can help narrow achievement gaps between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers will be the topic of a multi-site study involving researchers from two universities and one nonprofit research center.
- Funded by the Brady Education Foundation, based in Chapel Hill, NC, the project is expected to “build on a small but promising body of research showing students in these programs achieve greater academic growth than their non-Montessori peers,” according to a press release.
- Washington, DC-based Child Trends will work with the Riley Institute at Furman University to collect the data, and the Center for Montessori Research at the University of Kansas will manage the data for the project. With results expected by the end of 2022, the study is also expected to look at whether public Montessori programs can produce positive academic and social-emotional outcomes across all cultural groups.
A recently released study on public Montessori programs in South Carolina, also conducted by researchers at Furman, included results on subgroups and showed that black students and those from low-income homes performed better than their peers in non-Montessori schools. But the study design did not use random assignment, which is considered a more rigorous design.
The new Brady-funded study will focus on sites that use lotteries to admit students to Montessori programs in order to create study and control samples. The researchers will begin following students when they enter “level one” at age 3 and follow them through kindergarten.
While South Carolina has the largest number of public Montessori programs, interest and demand is growing across the country. The model emphasizes student-directed and hands-on learning, multi-age grouping, and creating a sense of community — elements that many schools are now trying to incorporate into their classrooms.
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