WWC review of this study

Effects of early mathematics intervention for low-SES pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students: A replication study

Starkey, P., Klein, A., Clarke, B., Baker, S., & Thomas, J. (2022). Educational Research and Evaluation. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2021.2022316.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: July 2023

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Mathematics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Researcher-Developed: Child Math Assessment (CMA)

Pre-K Mathematics vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
371 students





Test of Early Mathematics Ability, Third Edition, (TEMA-3)

Pre-K Mathematics vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
372 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.

  • 52% English language learners

  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%

  • Rural
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  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Other or unknown    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    


The study took place in pre-kindergarten classrooms in public, federally funded Head Start programs and California state-funded preschool programs and schools in agricultural regions of California. These programs were located in 10 school districts.

Study sample

The analytic sample for the study included 189 children located in 20 intervention classrooms, and 183 children located in 21 comparison classrooms. The average age of children in the sample was 4.5 years at baseline. None of the children had significant neurodevelopmental disorders; no other information about special education status was reported. Seventy-six percent of children identified as Hispanic. Ninety percent did not report race or identified as other race, 7% identified as White, and 3% identified as Black. The primary language for 48% of children was English and the rest primarily spoke Spanish (41%) or were bilingual (12%). The manuscript notes that children were assessed in their primary language, so we can confirm that the assessments reflect their language. Approximately 54% of children in the sample were female, while all were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals. The families of all participating children were required to demonstrate low-income status to be eligible to enroll in the participating Head Start programs or state-funded preschools.

Intervention Group

The study examined the effectiveness of Pre-K Mathematics, which is a supplemental program intended to mathematically enrich pre-kindergarten students’ school and home environments. This intervention includes classroom and home mathematics activities. The classroom mathematics activities were conducted in small groups with approximately four children per group. The activities occurred two times per week for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per group. On average, 85% of the recommended small group activity sessions were offered to each child. The classroom mathematics activities included concrete manipulatives. The curriculum units were: (1) number and number relations, (2) arithmetic operations (fall activities), (3) spatial sense and geometry, (4) patterns, (5) arithmetic operations (spring activities), and (6) measurement and data. Teachers also provided a mathematics learning center in the classroom with math applications or software. The home mathematics activities included picture strips as guides and were conducted by a parent or guardian with the child. The home activities were provided in English and Spanish.

Comparison Group

Children in the comparison condition received typical (business as usual) pre-kindergarten mathematics instruction. Eleven of the comparison classrooms used a standard curriculum that included a mathematics component (specifically, Creative Curriculum, Frog Street, or Houghton Mifflin), while 10 did not use a specific mathematics curriculum. Teachers in the comparison condition received no training before or during the school year that focused on mathematics. None of them provided intentional small-group mathematics activities.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention condition received 45 hours of mandatory training across 6 days through Pre-K Mathematics curriculum workshops. Teachers in the intervention condition also received on-site coaching one or two times per month with project trainers. During training and coaching, teachers learned the Pre-K Mathematics curriculum, mathematics instructional practices (mathematically focused small-group activities), how to use implementation tools (progress monitoring and dosage tracking), and strategies to support parents’ use of home mathematics activities.


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