- Students in South Carolina’s public Montessori schools perform significantly better in reading and math than their counterparts in traditional schools, according to The 74’s coverage of a new study conducted by researchers at Furman University.
- The five-year study showed that scores on state tests were 6% to 8% higher for Montessori students, and that they also scored higher in areas such as creativity, good behavior and showing independence. Public Montessori students in subgroups, including those from low-income homes and black students, also performed better than their peers in non-Montessori schools.
- With 52 public schools serving more than 8,500 students, most of them in the elementary grades, South Carolina has more public Montessori schools than any other state, according to the article.
With an emphasis on student choice, hands-on learning, multi-age grouping and a community feel, Montessori education often stands in contrast to the more teacher-directed, test-focused approach of most public schools. In fact, in a survey of teachers in South Carolina’s public Montessori schools, conducted as part of the study, teachers said they struggle to remain true to the Montessori model because they are still required to give standardized tests.
Whether they recognize it or not, however, many schools, are increasingly applying Montessori principles, such as giving students more autonomy, teaching subjects in an interdisciplinary way through project-based learning, and letting younger children learn from older peers. With the growing number of public Montessori schools, there are also more resources for school and community leaders interested in starting a Montessori program.