All Blog Posts

Evidence Matters | What Montessori Could Mean for Equity

April 12, 2023

Across the country, leaders in public education continue to search for strategies and approaches that address the gap between our highest-performing and lowest-performing students, the latter of whom often come from low-income, under-resourced communities. As the nation’s leader in total number of public Montessori programs, South Carolina has looked to the Montessori method as a potential means to narrow that gap.

In 2018, the Riley Institute published the results of its multi-year study comparing outcomes among elementary school-aged Montessori students to those of demographically similar non-Montessori students. Researchers found that across all three years of the analyses, Montessori students scored significantly higher on English Language Arts (ELA) state standardized tests than did non-Montessori students. In the second and third years of the study, there was a significant Montessori advantage in math and social studies. In the final year of data collection, results showed that Montessori students were more likely to have met or exceeded the state standards in each of the four core subjects (ELA, math, social studies, and science) for that year.

Importantly, subgroup analyses in this study indicated that low-income Montessori students showed a small but statistically significant advantage over low-income non-Montessori students in ELA, math, and social studies. While white Montessori students exhibited higher growth than similar students in the matched comparison group, so did black Montessori students. This study provides evidence that the benefits of Montessori are potentially wide-ranging, and that public Montessori offers value to a broad range of educators and parents in South Carolina.

Stay tuned to this blog for the third installment on public Montessori, which looks at outcomes connected to behavior, creativity, and teacher satisfaction, and read more about the Riley Institute’s research on Montessori here.

Kelly Gregory is the Riley Institute’s Director for Public Education Partnerships and Projects and previously taught for 11 years in South Carolina public schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Special Education. She also holds a National Board certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. She can be reached at