Project Title QuickSmart Numeracy and Literacy Projects in the Northern Territory
Project Team Professor John Pegg, Associate Professor Lorraine Graham, Ms Jenny Thomas (SiMERR National Centre); Ms Deb Efthymiades, Mr Geoff Gillman, Mr John Bradbury, Mike Caraher (NT DEET);
Period 2005-2008
Funding Agency NT Department of Employment, Education and Training
Organisational Base SiMERR National Centre


The initial 2005 pilot project delivered a comprehensive evaluation of the capacity of the QuickSmart (QS) program to improve numeracy outcomes for students identified as being two or more years below the expected achievement levels of their cohort, especially Indigenous students. The effectiveness of the QS program in the Northern Territory (NT) was measured by individual and collective student progress on the Cognitive Aptitude Assessment System, data collected from intervention session activities, stakeholder questionnaires, and from test results obtained from a specifically developed NT numeracy test that was utilised before and after the delivery of the QuickSmart program. Since 2005, the QS numeracy program has grown steadily to include more schools each year and expanded into offering literacy programs at some experienced QuickSmart schools.

The QuickSmart program offers professional learning workshops and ongoing support for teachers and teacher aides to work intensively with pairs of students during three 30-minute sessions each week for approximately 30 weeks. In addition, the results of a small group of average students in each school are used as a ‘comparison’ group. The aim of the QuickSmart program is to narrow the performance gap between low-achieving and average-achieving students.


2005: 82 QS students from 8 schools in the Top End of the NT

2006: 203 students from 12 Schools in the Top End of the NT

2007: 258 (QS and comparison) students from 21 schools in clusters around Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine

2008: Students from 33 NT schools are currently involved in QuickSmart, with another cluster of 17 schools set to participate in the initial QS workshop during August 2008.


In comparing the results of the QuickSmart students with those of the average-achieving comparison students, the major consistent finding from the Northern Territory data was that the cohorts were statistically significantly different at the start of the program but not statistically different at post-test. Stakeholders report that improved literacy and numeracy skills and knowledge better enable the students to participate in classroom lessons and to apply their knowledge in a range of learning and living situations. By the conclusion of the intervention program in many schools, students frequently make comments and display learning behaviours that indicate increased confidence, a more positive attitude and a readiness to attempt learning tasks that is in marked contrast to their earlier attitude to learning.


Journal Article

  • Bellert, A. & Graham, L. (2006). Caught in the middle: Reaching and teaching middle years students with learning difficulties. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 6 (1), 3-10.

Refereed Conference Paper

  • Pegg, J.E., Graham, L.J. and Bellert, A. (2005). The effect of improved automaticity of basic number skills on persistently low-achieving pupils. Learners and Learning Environments, 29th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, vol.4, 4-49. ISSN0771700X

Conference Presentation

  • Graham, L. & Pegg, J. (2008). The importance of fast and accurate basic skills to students with learning disabilities. Paper presented at the Queensland State Conference of the Australian Association of Special Education, Cairns.


  • Bradbury, J. & Gillman, G. (2006). QuickSmart in Northern Territory Schools during 2005. NT DEET: Darwin.
  • Bradbury, J. & Gillman, G. (2007). QuickSmart in Northern Territory Schools during 2006. NT DEET: Darwin.
  • Bradbury, J. & Gillman, G. (2008). QuickSmart in Northern Territory Schools during 2007. NT DEET: Darwin.
  • Pegg, J. & Graham, L. (2007). Report on Quality Teaching Funding. Submitted to Department of Education, Science and Training.


QuickSmart in the Northern Territory began in 2005 with a small pilot group of eight schools. In 2006, AGQTP funding expanded the project to 12 schools. The positive results of this research has led to continued funding from the Northern Territory Department of Education, Employment and Training which has supported the growth of QuickSmart numeracy. A total of 21 NT schools participated during 2007, including three schools which also trialed the QS literacy program. The number of schools involved in QS numeracy during 2008 has increased to 50, with six of these schools also implementing or preparing to implement the QS literacy program.

Related documents

Click here to download this infosheet.

Click 30quicksmartnt.php to visit this project’s website.