Little girl painting

Early Math Initiative Evaluation

Improving students’ early numeracy and math reasoning skills through improved teaching and family engagement.

In 2008, in partnership with the Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative, Start Early launched and began the evaluation of the Early Math Initiative at Educare Chicago, a program aimed at improving students’ early numeracy and math reasoning skills through improved teaching and family engagement. Specifically, this initiative provided teachers with intensive, hands-on training and coaching that demonstrated how to integrate early math exploration and problem-solving skills into their lessons, materials and activities. Additionally, family math nights engaged parents in everyday experiences to advance children’s math and language skills at home, including activities such as cooking, laundry, shopping and gardening.

In addition to the Early Math Initiative, we also partnered with the Erikson Institute to conceptualize and develop Math All Around Me (MAAM) — an effort to adapt and apply key math concepts and resources, previously focused for preschool to 3rd grade children, to be applicable for children’s learning and development in the first three years of life. This set the foundation for improved math methods and tools for infant-toddler practitioners. Through MAAM, we partnered with 80 birth-to-three practitioners from 14 home-based and center-based programs in the Chicago area to share and pilot test MAAM content. Math All Around Me holds great promise to transform how we teach foundational math concepts to infants and toddlers.

Key Findings

Data for the evaluation of the Early Math Initiative at the preschool level at Educare Chicago was gathered and analyzed in partnership between our research team and Erikson researchers.

  • After engaging in the Early Math Initiative, Educare Chicago preschool teachers’ confidence in their math teaching practice and beliefs about the efficacy of their math instruction increased over time.
  • The same teachers also demonstrated a 51% increase in their overall scores and significant gains in eight of nine dimensions of high-impact math instructional strategies.
  • Examples of teacher practice improvements included greater clarity around learning objectives for students, more frequent use of small groups for instruction and a reduction in the length of lesson time (indicating more focused mathematical teaching).
  • Across three years of the evaluation, Educare Chicago kindergarten-bound students had improved scores from fall to spring on three direct assessments of their math knowledge and skills.

Research & Evaluation Team & Collaborators


  • CME Group Foundation
  • The Boeing Group
  • Louis R. Lurie Foundation
  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation