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New Reports Find Aligned Math Interventions in Pre-K and Kindergarten Narrow the Achievement Gap

Posted by Bank Street on March 06, 2018

New findings released by social policy and research organization MDRC show that aligned math-focused interventions in pre-K and kindergarten reduce the achievement gap.

Researchers examined the impact of two New York City public school programs—Making Pre-K Count, which supported the implementation of high-quality math curriculum in preschools, and High 5s, a supplemental small-group math club program. Together, the two years of math instruction closed 29 percent of the achievement gap in math skills between low-income children and their higher-income peers. Bank Street coaches have been deeply involved in the implementation of both programs, providing classroom support and professional development in the Building Blocks curriculum for pre-K teachers through Making Pre-K Count and leading the High 5s small group math club instruction in kindergarten.

“These findings show that we can narrow the achievement gap if we implement a play-based, hands-on math curriculum that is sustained from pre-K programs into early childhood,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00, President of Bank Street College. “Our coaches are proud to be deeply involved in the in-classroom support and training of New York City educators and we look forward to continuing our efforts to help all children develop strong early math skills.”


Building Blocks is a 30-week, evidence-based curriculum designed to take into account children’s natural developmental progression in math understanding and skills. Pre-K teachers who participated in Making Pre-K Count received 11 days of training and met with Bank Street coaches two to four times a month over two years.

The High 5s kindergarten supplement paired three to four children with one facilitator for math clubs. The clubs met three times a week for 30 minutes each and offered math enrichment in a setting outside of regular classroom instruction.

“Making mathematical reasoning and representation a part of children’s daily activity, conversation, and play helps lay the foundation for the development of solid math skills. This approach is not only proven to help strengthen executive functioning, language, and reading skills, but also research shows that early math learning is predictive of children’s later performance on standardized reading and math tests,” said Doug Knecht, Executive Director, Bank Street Education Center. “We are heartened to see these findings demonstrate that well-crafted, developmentally appropriate early math curriculum can help close the achievement gap for students.”

MDRC released two reports outlining their findings:

  • Strengthening Children’s Math Skills with Enhanced Instruction: The Impacts of Making Pre-K Count and High 5s on Kindergarten Outcomes examines the effects on children’s kindergarten outcomes from two math programs providing aligned math instruction and content based on children’s natural mathematical trajectories: the Making Pre-K Count pre-K math curriculum and the High 5s kindergarten small group math clubs.

The reports were designed as part of the Robin Hood Early Childhood Research Initiative, which was established to identify and rigorously test promising early childhood interventions. Click the links above or visit MDRC to read the full reports.

tagged: building-blocks, high-5s, making-pre-k-count, mdrc