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Longitudinal Study of Low and High Achievers in Early Mathematics

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British Journal of Educational Psychology Volume 82, Number 1, ISSN 0007-0998


Background: Longitudinal studies allow us to identify, which specific maths skills are weak in young children, and whether there is a continuing weakness in these areas throughout their school years. Aims: This 2-year study investigated whether certain socio-demographic variables affect early mathematical competency in children aged 5-7 years. Sample: A randomly selected sample of 127 students (64 female; 63 male) participated. At the start of the study, the students were approximately 5 years old (M = 5.2; SD = 0.28; range = 4.5-5.8). Method: The students were assessed using the Early Numeracy Test and then allocated to a high (n = 26), middle (n = 76), or low (n = 25) achievers group. The same children were assessed again with the Early Numeracy Test at 6 and 7 years old, respectively. Eight socio-demographic characteristics were also evaluated: family model, education of the parent(s), job of the parent(s), number of family members, birth order, number of computers at home, frequency of teacher visits, and hours watching television. Results: Early Numeracy Test scores were more consistent for the high-achievers group than for the low-achievers group. Approximately 5.5% of low achievers obtained low scores throughout the study. A link between specific socio-demographic characteristics and early achievement in mathematics was only found for number of computers at home. Conclusions: The level of mathematical ability among students aged 5-7 years remains relatively stable regardless of the initial level of achievement. However, early screening for mathematics learning disabilities could be useful in helping low-achieving students overcome learning obstacles. (Contains 5 tables and 1 figure.)


Navarro, J.I., Aguilar, M., Marchena, E., Ruiz, G., Menacho, I. & Van Luit, J.E.H. (2012). Longitudinal Study of Low and High Achievers in Early Mathematics. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 28-41. Retrieved May 7, 2021 from .

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