Watts, T., Duncan, G., Clements, D.H., & Sarama, J. (2017). What Is the long-run impact of learning mathematics during preschool? Child Development, 1-17.
The current study estimated the causal links between preschool mathematics learning and late elementary school mathematics achievement using variation in treatment assignment to an early mathematics intervention as an instrument for preschool mathematics change. Estimates indicate (n = 410) that a standard deviation of intervention-produced change at age 4 is associated with a 0.24-SD gain in achievement in late elementary school. This impact is approximately half the size of the association produced by correlational models relating later achievement to preschool math change, and is approximately 35% smaller than the effect reported by highly controlled ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models (Claessens et al., 2009; Watts et al., 2014) using national data sets. Implications for developmental theory and practice are discussed.