WWC review of this study

The Impact of a Comprehensive Tier I Core Kindergarten Program on the Achievement of Students at Risk in Mathematics

Clarke, Ben; Smolkowski, Keith; Baker, Scott K.; Fien, Hank; Doabler, Christian T.; Chard, David J. (2011). Elementary School Journal, v111 n4 p561-584. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ963695

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Test of Early Mathematics Ability (TEMA-3)

Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM) curriculum vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
918 students





Early Numeracy Curriculum-Based Measurement (EN-CBM)

Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM) curriculum vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
999 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 38% English language learners

  • Other or unknown: 100%
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    No FRPL    


The study took place in general education kindergarten classrooms in three school districts in unnamed states and regions of the United States.

Study sample

The researchers randomly assigned 33 classrooms to the intervention group and 33 classrooms to the comparison group across the school districts. A total of 999 students were included in the study. Approximately 56% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 38% were English learners, and 8% received special education services. Fifty percent were White, 5% were Asian or Pacific Islander, 2% were Black, and 43% did not report race. Thirty-six percent were Hispanic or Latino.

Intervention Group

Teachers in intervention classrooms used the Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM) curriculum, a comprehensive, core kindergarten mathematics program designed to address the learning needs of all students, including at-risk students in general education or Tier I classroom settings. The program consists of 120 45-minute lessons with supplemental 15-minute calendar activities. Each lesson, on average, contains four to five activities focused on one of ELM’s three areas or strands: number and operations, measurement, and geometry. Vocabulary, the fourth strand, is embedded across the other three strands. The first activity of each lesson typically introduces or reviews a math concept or skill central to the strand covered in that lesson. The second and third activities typically involve either an extension of the first activity or a review of previously learned material. The fourth activity typically targets previously learned material from a different content area. Each strand reflects the critical math content identified in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Focal Points for kindergarten (NCTM, 2006) and aligns with the recommendations of the National Math Advisory Panel (NMAP, 2008) as well as other experts in the field. ELM was constructed around two main principles that specifically target at-risk students: 1) it was designed to cover the most essential mathematics knowledge kindergarten children need to develop; and 2) it includes the use of research-based instructional design principles found to be effective with at-risk students in mathematics.

Comparison Group

Classrooms in the comparison group continued to use their existing kindergarten math curricula, such as Harcourt Math and Scott Foresman. Three comparison classrooms used only teacher-made materials rather than a published curriculum.

Support for implementation

The teachers in the intervention group received three four-hour ELM curriculum trainings led by the lead author of the ELM curriculum, a math teacher-educator from the University of Oregon. During the trainings, teachers received the ELM curriculum materials; and learned about the program’s key components, concepts, instructional strategies, and objectives. Teachers received continued professional development throughout the school year.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Doabler, Christian T.; Clarke, Ben; Kosty, Derek B.; Baker, Scott K.; Smolkowski, Keith; Fien, Hank. (2016). Effects of a Core Kindergarten Mathematics Curriculum on the Mathematics Achievement of Spanish-Speaking English Learners. School Psychology Review, v45 n3 p343-361.


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