Ensuring Mastery of Early Numeracy Skills

Research has clearly demonstrated the value of integrating Curriculum-Based Measurement Assessments (such as AIMSWEB, EasyCBM, TEN, DIBELS) in elementary classrooms to measure performance and growth in both math and literacy.  The impact of these measures is directly related to how effectively the data is used to group students, differentiate instruction, and support definitive student mastery of early literacy and numeracy concepts.
To date, resources and guidance on the progression of early literacy skills far exceeds what is available in the area of math.  Simultaneously, student performance on number sense measures – and the growth rate that occurs between Kindergarten and first grade – can reliably predict general mathematics achievement through third grade.
Similar to early reading skills, there are discrete critical foundational skills in mathematics that must be assessed, directly instructed and mastered by students to ensure future success.  The Highlander Institute has developed a continuum of skills that align with CBM mathematics subtests to provide guidance to educators interested in addressing skill gaps in students struggling with math:
In our experience, using these early indicators to identify skill gaps helps teachers effectively target instruction and build a strong numeracy foundation in all students. By taking the guesswork out of targeting skills, teachers can focus more time on the challenging task of matching instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners and ensuring that growth rates are closing gaps.
The continuum begins with subitizing and moves to number recognition which is measured by Number Identification CBM subtests.  Magnitude comparison supports skill development in Quantity Discrimination; strategic counting supports student ability to provide a Missing Number.  Counting on, counting down, counting the difference, skip counting, partitioning to 10, and place value patterns set the stage for accurate Computation.  Fact fluency supports more complex computation.
Using these early indicators to identify children who may experience difficulties in understanding mathematics allows for early interventions at the most receptive periods of a child’s education.  Similar to the ‘reading by grade 3’ initiatives, studies have found that as students move on to intermediate and upper elementary school lacking the understanding of basic facts, they continue to have difficulties throughout their education.
In Highlander Institute partner schools, regular progress monitoring has demonstrated the effectiveness of this skill progression, and has supported critical conversations around re-teaching, determining mastery, closing gaps, and bringing students to benchmark.