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Which preschool mathematics competencies are most predictive of fifth grade achievement?

  • Author(s): Nguyen, T
  • Watts, TW
  • Duncan, GJ
  • Clements, DH
  • Sarama, JS
  • Wolfe, C
  • Spitler, ME
  • et al.
Abstract

In an effort to promote best practices regarding mathematics teaching and learning at the preschool level, national advisory panels and organizations have emphasized the importance of children's emergent counting and related competencies, such as the ability to verbally count, maintain one-to-one correspondence, count with cardinality, subitize, and count forward or backward from a given number. However, little research has investigated whether the kind of mathematical knowledge promoted by the various standards documents actually predict later mathematics achievement. The present study uses longitudinal data from a primarily low-income and minority sample of children to examine the extent to which preschool mathematical competencies, specifically basic and advanced counting, predict fifth grade mathematics achievement. Using regression analyses, we find early numeracy abilities to be the strongest predictors of later mathematics achievement, with advanced counting competencies more predictive than basic counting competencies. Our results highlight the significance of preschool mathematics knowledge for future academic achievement.

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