Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Validating a Number Sense Screening Tool for Use in Kindergarten and First Grade: Prediction of Mathematics Proficiency in Third Grade

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Validating a Number Sense Screening Tool for Use in Kindergarten and First Grade: Prediction of Mathematics Proficiency in Third Grade

Article excerpt

Mathematics education is rapidly becoming a top priority among U.S. policy makers because proficiency in mathematics is essential to success in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and for competiveness in the global workforce. Poor mathematics achievement is widespread in U.S. schools, especially among economically disadvantaged, minority populations. Disturbingly, substantial mathematics disparities exist between middle- and low-income children before they enter school (Jordan & Levine, 2009; National Research Council, 2009). Recent research indicates the importance of early number competence, or number sense, for setting children's learning trajectories in mathematics throughout elementary school (Duncan et al., 2008; Jordan, Kaplan, Ramineni, & Locuniak, 2009). Number sense refers to the understanding of whole numbers, number operations, and number relations (Malofeeva, Day, Saco, Young, & Ciancio, 2004; National Research Council, 2009). Number sense allows children to connect mathematical principles with procedures (Ger sten, Jordan, & Flojo, 2005).

Most children enter school with number sense that is relevant to learning formal mathematics (National Research Council, 2009). Even in the first year of life, humans are sensitive to numerical and related spatial representations (e.g., Antell & Keating, 1983; Cordes & Brannon, 2008; Wynn, 1992). Infants have precise representations of small sets of objects and approximate representations of large sets (Feigenson & Carey, 2003). These primary abilities appear to develop without much verbal input or instruction (Berch, 2005; Dehaene, 1997; Feigneson, Dehaene, & Spelke, 2004). Preverbal number knowledge is shared by children from different cultures and cognitive abilities (Gordon, 2004; Pica, Lerner, Izard, & Dehaene, 2004) and, arguably, provides a foundation for acquiring secondary symbolic number competencies related to counting, comparing, and operating on sets. Knowledge of the symbolic number system is influenced by the input a child receives and can be taught successfully in preschool and kindergarten (Ginsburg, Lee, & Boyd, 2008; Siegler, 2009). Symbolic number sense is secondary to primary preverbal number knowledge but intermediate to the formal mathematics that is taught in school (Jordan & Levine, 2009).

Counting knowledge is critical for extending quantitative understanding beyond small numbers (Baroody, 1987; Baroody, Lai, & Mix. 2006; Ginsburg, 1989). Children begin to say the count words soon after they learn to talk (Fuson, 1988). At first, they might use the count words to label small quantities of 3 or less or recite the count list; later, they might use the count words for counting objects in a set. Before kindergarten, most children internalize key counting principles (Gelman & Gallistel, 1978)--that is, each item can be counted only once, the count words must be used in a stable consistent order, and the final number in the count indicates how many items are in the set.

Children as young as 4 years of age also learn to discriminate between and among quantities (Case & Griffin, 1990; Griffin, 2002, 2004). For example, they can tell which of two piles of objects has more or less. By 6 years of age, most children integrate these quantitative sensitivities with their counting knowledge to form a mental number line (Siegler & Booth, 2004). They eventually understand that numbers later in the count list have larger quantities than earlier quantities (N, N + 1, [N + 1] + 1, and so on; Le Corre & Carey, 2006) and that, for example, 4 is bigger than 3 and that 2 is smaller than 5 (Griffin, 2004).

Counting and quantity discrimination help children perform addition and subtraction calculations. Although preschoolers have limited success with addition and subtraction story problems ("Mike had 2 pennies. Barb gave him 1 more penny. How many pennies does he have now? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.