Kindergarten children's symbolic number comparison skills predict 1st grade mathematics achievement: Evidence from a two-minute paper-and-pencil test
Learning and Instruction
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Basic numerical skills provide an important foundation for the learning of mathematics. Thus, it is critical that researchers and educators have access to valid and reliable ways of assessing young children's numerical skills. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the concurrent, predictive, and incremental validity of a two-minute paper-and-pencil measure of children's symbolic (Arabic numerals) and non-symbolic (dot arrays) comparison skills. A sample of kindergarten children (Mage = 5.86, N = 439) were assessed on the measure along with a number line estimation task, a measure of arithmetic, and several control measures. Results indicated that performance on the symbolic comparison task explained unique variance in children's arithmetic performance in kindergarten. Longitudinal analyses demonstrated that both symbolic comparison and number line estimation in kindergarten were independent predictors of 1st grade mathematics achievement. However, only symbolic comparison remained a unique predictor once language skills and processing speed were taken into account. These results suggest that a two-minute paper-and-pencil measure of children's symbolic number comparison is a reliable predictor of children's early mathematics performance.