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IES Grant

Title: An Examination of the Impact of Big Math for Little Kids on Pre-K and Kindergarten Students' Learning of Math
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Clements, Margaret Awardee: Education Development Center, Inc.
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,952,626
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305K040001

American children do not perform as well in mathematics as children from other countries, and American children from low income families do not do as well as children from middle and upper income families. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of a mathematics curriculum that has been developed for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, Big Math for Little Kids, to determine if it is possible to provide young children who are at-risk for poor mathematics achievement with a stronger mathematics foundation.

Big Math for Little Kids (BMLK) includes a structured sequence of activities that is includes both mathematics content and related verbal expression. BMLK is designed for use at least 20 to 30 minutes each day throughout a typical 32-week academic year. Lessons, which can be implemented in large groups, small groups, and with individual children, take the form of games, activities with manipulatives, explorations, stories, a very small amount of work with writing and reading mathematics, and various other activities. Lessons are organized into six major content strands: number, shape, measurement, operations on numbers, patterns and logic, and space. The strands cover similar topics at each age level, but offer more advanced material at the kindergarten level. Teachers are provided with suggestions on how to assess children's mathematical learning and thinking in the context of instruction.

In the first year of the project, 16 large, public childcare centers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control condition. In the eight treatment centers, 16 pre-kindergarten teachers (two per center) will attend a BMLK summer training program, with eight follow-up sessions during the academic year. An equal number of teachers from the eight control group centers will serve as the comparison group. The comparison group will continue to use Creative Curriculum, the standard program used in these centers. In the second year the teachers will implement the two curricula in their classrooms, serving 320 pre-kindergarten children in each curriculum group. In the third year the researchers will follow students who remain in the same centers for kindergarten. A total of eight kindergarten classrooms, with approximately 160 children, will be included for each curriculum group. The researchers are using a nationally normed test of math learning to compare the effects of the two curricula on student learning. In addition, data obtained from classroom observations and teacher interviews will be used to examine whether children's learning is related to the fidelity and intensity with which the teachers implement the BMLK curriculum.

Project Website:

Project Website:


Book chapter

Ertle, B.B., Ginsburg, H.P., Cordero, M.I., Curran, T.M., Manlapig, L., and Morgenlander, M. (2008). The Essence of Early Childhood Mathematics Education and the Professional Development Needed to Support it. In A. Dowker (Ed.), Mathematical Difficulties: Psychology and Interventions (pp. 59–83). Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Ginsburg, H.P., Lee, J.S., and Boyd, J.S. (2008). Mathematics Education for Young Children: What it is and How to Promote it. Social Policy Report, 22(1): 3–22.