Early Math Skills and Later Achievement

Results of a longitudinal study published in 2007 found early math skills to be the strongest predictors of later achievement in both math and reading.  This finding was unexpected as researchers’ preconceptions focused on literacy and social skills acquired before kindergarten as the most likely predictors of academic success. [1]  Another study of seventh graders found that those who tested lower than their peers on core math skills were the same students who had been weak in math when they entered first grade.[2]


[1]  A 2007 article in Developmental Psychology (Duncan, Dowsett, & Claessens) reported that results of a longitudinal study in favor of early math were surprising, as researchers expected early literacy, and behavioral skills to dominate the list of high-achievement predictors.

[2] The studies predicting low achievement of 7th graders were conducted at the University of Missouri by Dr. David Geary.  They came to my attention in a 3/26/13 Washington Post Express article entitled, “Early Math Training Adds Up,” by Lauran Neergard.