While testing Montessori outcomes empirically is an expanding area for research, it has been a highly desirable and high-tuition pedagogy primarily in the private sector since the early 20th century. Toward evaluating Montessori suitability for private schools, three key consideration comprise an argument for expanding Montessori schools in the public sector: First, public schools would benefit from incorporating more Montessori schools, as Montessori students demonstrated broad gains in all academic and behavioral gains when in these programs for early childhood (Ansari, 2014). Moreover, Montessori methodologies represent an epitomizing form of constructivist education, since the pedagogy values independent inquiry with specialized materials and teacher as guide rather than center of focus (Mallett, 2013). Finally, when Montessori students go on to other formats of learning, Montessori students demonstrate more academic successful than other students, even to high school (Dohrman, 2007). As an aside, when examining conflicting research about the success of the method, evaluators must weigh the purity of the implementation and specific community needs (Chattin-McNichols, 2016). Considering these three considerations, therefore, Montessori pedagogies should inform public decisions for a new direction in public education. Montessori should be a high consideration in any development of school learning innovations and personalized learning formats.
Although it is not directly discussed in Pate’s research on higher degrees of concentrated movement in Montessori classrooms, the greater movement can contribute to higher quality of life for children. Pate’s researchers monitored 301 children in 9 Montessori and 8 traditional preschools in Columbia, South Carolina. In detail, physical activity was measured by accelerometers attached to children on weekdays during preschool (In-School), non-school (Non-School), and all day (All Day). With implications for obesity, attention, and behavior, the findings also suggest a higher quality of life for students who engage in so much concentrated movement, as part of their learning. The multi-sensory constructivist approach invites further possibilities for research in Montessori methods for use in remediation of special needs such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and low-vision and hearing impaired environments.
Montessori is still quite rare in the public sector. Out of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector’s 4000+ list of Montessori schools in the USA, NCMPS maintains a list of only 500 public Montessori schools. Since the origins of the method come from Dr. Montessori’s work with disadvantaged children in 1907 in Italy, this leaves many wondering how best to deliver Montessori to public schools and disadvantaged populations. Chattin-McNichols provided an ethnographic, qualitative summary of difficulties observed in Montessori schools, or uniquely challenging to public Montessori schools. Most germane to expanding Montessori will be the discussion of whether the method is more successful. In weighing at-times conflicting research, Chattin-McNichols reminded evaluators of the large number of schools set up as “Montessori and…” another method and questioned how those needs could be met by exclusive Montessori. Beyond discouraging an overlay of another program, fidelity to the classic Montessori model has an impact on success. Finally, high-stakes testing remains a threat and interruption to the prepared Montessori environment. Districts must commit to minimal disruption of Montessori and to establishing campus permissions to deviate from other district testing models, schedules, and miscellaneous requirements. Administration will need to be well-educated in granting autonomy to Montessori spaces from many of the common practices associated with conventional, high-stakes testing environments. Maintaining purity in classic Montessori offerings will conserve resources and generate results more similar to the high-achieving studies.