Studies of Montessori education and evaluations of children in Montessori programs have shown strengths in math, science, reading, writing, executive function, problem solving, and more. However, research and testing on Montessori can be challenging for two reasons:
- “Montessori” is not trademarked or copyrighted, so Montessori programs can vary widely in implementation. However, research has shown that positive outcomes correlate with “high-fidelity” Montessori implementation, using guidelines such as the Montessori Essentials or the Montessori Essential Elements Rubric.
- Montessori populations for study can be compromised by selection bias, introducing confounding variables such as parental income, literacy levels, geographic factors, etc.
A handful of studies and test results have delivered substantive findings:
- Lillard-Quest in Science, 2006: Milwaukee lottery program Montessori public school students showed better results in reading, math, executive function, and social cognition, even when compared to demographically similar “lottery losers”.
- Dohrmann et. al. in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 2007: Another group of demographically matched lottery students showed math and science gains in high school.
- Lillard, Journal of School Psychology, 2012: Children in “classic” Montessori environments, with a three to six year old age grouping, a two to three hour work period, free choice of work by children, and complete Montessori materials showed gains in reading, vocabulary, executive function, and social problem solving.
The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) has a selection of current research, and the American Montessori Society (AMS) has an overview of the Montessori research landscape as well as a collection of articles, dissertations, and other publications. AMS, in collaboration with Kansas University, also publishes the peer-reviewed, open-source Journal of Montessori Research.