A recent paper in Education Researcher has found that children’s preschool mathematical knowledge and, even more so, their early mathematical progress, are significant predictors of later achievement.
The study investigated achievement in mathematics from age 4½ to 15 and found substantial statistically significant associations between preschool mathematical ability and adolescent mathematics achievement. This was the case even after controlling for general cognitive developmental levels and a host of relevant demographic, parental, and child variables.
Researchers also tested the association between early gains in mathematical skills (between age 4½ and first grade/Year 1) and later achievement. Gains in early mathematical knowledge were even more predictive of age 15 mathematics achievement than was found for preschool knowledge.
The study used data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). The full sample of the NICHD SECCYD data set included 1,364 children born in 1991 in 10 urban and rural areas across the United States.
Source: What’s Past Is Prologue. Relations Between Early Mathematics Knowledge and High School Achievement (2014), Educational Researcher 43(7)