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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mathematics Instruction in Kindergarten and First Grade in the United States at the Start of the 21st Century


Understanding how mathematics is taught in the classroom is an important first step in connecting mathematics instruction to student learning. This study sheds light on mathematics teaching in kindergarten and first grade—the grades at which initial understandings, as well as obstacles to later progress, begin to emerge. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K) survey, we consider (i) how much time teachers spend on mathematics on days when they teach this subject, (ii) the content of mathematics instruction, and (iii) the pedagogical techniques used. We find that time spent on mathematics instruction, content coverage, and pedagogical techniques varies between teachers as a function of school location and type, classroom composition, and a range of teacher attributes that includes demographics, preparation, level of effort, and professional development activities.

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