- Students in Montessori programs show higher performance in language, math and general academic ability compared to students in traditional schools, research released Tuesday said.
- Montessori students — whose lessons are based on their interests — also perform better in executive functioning, according to the review of 32 studies on the Montessori approach. The review was conducted by eight universities and school districts.
- As school leaders work to boost student engagement and academic performance, this research shows the Montessori approach may be one alternative teaching method to consider, said Angeline Lillard, one of the study's authors and a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in a statement.
Montessori, named for Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who developed the approach in the early 1900s, takes a child-centered approach to teaching and is specially designed for multisensory learning and inquiry in multi-age classrooms, according to the American Montessori Society.
The studies in this meta-analytic review were published between 1967 and 2020 and took place in eight countries. They included students from all grade levels, pre-K through high school.
In the U.S. about 3,000 private schools and 550 public schools offer Montessori education, the study said.
Specifically, the research found a Montessori education had "strong and clear effects on math, literacy, general academic ability, and executive function."
The approach also shows a positive impact on students' experience of school and the degree to which they like school. More research is needed, however, to examine Montessori's effects on social studies and science performance, as well as on creativity and social skills, the report said.
The academic and nonacademic effects were strongest for young children, with the greatest gains seen in kindergartners and 1st graders.
Researchers found that when compared to traditional educational programs, Montessori programs at both private and public schools yielded higher academic and nonacademic gains.
The report points out that for five of the studies reviewed, it was difficult to determine the quality of implementation of the Montessori approach, which could have biased the results.
It also acknowledges that while Lillard wrote three of the included studies, her contributions to this new report came after the initial analyses were done. Lillard also was not involved in developing the selection criteria, the decisions on which studies to include, or in the analyses.