Project Background

Professor John Pegg and Associate Professor Lorraine Graham – 2001

Developed at the SiMERR National Research Centre, QuickSmart drew upon extensive analyses of the research literature (e.g., Swanson & Hoskyn, 1998), while its initial implementation was supported by research grants from the Australian Research Council, the Federal Government, project funds from SiMERR, and extensive cash and in-kind support from the Northern Territory and New South Wales.

The research program associated with QuickSmart is unique because it explored a programmatic intervention conducted in a wide variety of Australian schools. Since 2001, systematic data collection and analysis has accrued substantial evidence regarding the value and applicability of the QuickSmart Numeracy (basic mathematics) and QuickSmart Literacy (reading, vocabulary and comprehension) programs as they have been implemented to an increasingly expansive scale. As of 2019, the programs have been implemented in over 1400 schools in Australia, with data collected for over 63,000 students.

The QuickSmart research program is one of only a few programmatic interventions that has accrued substantial evidence regarding value and applicability from research conducted in Australian schools targeting low-achieving middle-school students. In May 2009, the NSW Department of Education and Training announced that QuickSmart Numeracy was an approved numeracy intervention program to be offered under the new state/federal school partnership funding arrangement for schools with literacy and numeracy needs and schools in areas of low socioeconomic status.

The following principles have guided both the development and scaling up of QuickSmart:

  • Research evidence should inform policy positions and systemic approaches to addressing the needs of low-achieving middle-school students.
  • Programs designed to address the learning needs of low-achieving middle-school students should be intense, of significant duration, and conducted in small-class instructional settings.
  • An extensive professional learning program for teachers, teacher aides and executive members of schools and education jurisdictions should be an important component of any sustainable instructional intervention.
  • Improving the skill base of teacher aides should be a focus of attention for all support programs, especially those in rural and remote areas or difficult-to-staff schools where teaching staff mobility is a significant factor.
  • To ensure sustainability, national, state, regional and school level stakeholders need to coordinate their efforts and collaborate to ensure the fidelity of the program, and the viability of its implementation and scaling up processes.
  • Costs of the program should be shared across national, state, regional and school-level stakeholders.

Some key features of QuickSmart that underpin its effectiveness since 2001 include:

  • A whole school approach to intervention for low-achieving students which includes professional learning sessions geared to principals and administrators;
  • The establishment of a QuickSmart team within each school consisting of a QuickSmart coordinator and QuickSmart instructors as well as a member of the senior executive;
  • Active participation in a six-day (three sets of two-days) professional learning program throughout the year that introduces, then consolidates, the QuickSmart approach;
  • An intervention that is based on research evidence and supported by extensive resource materials, manuals, software and levels of practical and troubleshooting advice.

Since 2009, the Ascent Business Services group in Armidale have been subcontracted by SiMERR to administer the packing and sending out of QuickSmart flashcard kits and other resources to schools. More information here: