The Research Behind STEP

The Theory Behind High-Quality Math and EF Learning

Kindergarten is the perfect time for young students to learn about mathematics and early exposure to this domain is critical. In fact, research has shown a child's early understanding of mathematical concepts is one of the strongest predictors of later academic success. Recent research also indicates that a child's executive function skills are of central importance in supporting mathematics achievement. In fact, when preschool children have impairments in EF skills, their mathematics achievement in elementary school tends to suffer. In light of this, the latest research suggests that children would benefit from learning experiences that focus on EF and mathematics together.

The mission of STEP is to promote children’s mathematics and executive function (EF) skills. The STEP professional development process is designed with the goal of changing teachers' knowledge, skills, and behaviors, ultimately influencing children's learning outcomes.

The model focuses on professional development that aims to improve teachers' content and pedagogical knowledge, as well as their ability to observe and identify effective classroom instruction. The model also includes opportunities for teachers to try out new practices in their own classroom, analyze their implementation, and plan for change.

The STEP Theory of Change Model

Intervention Components

STEP includes a series of online learning modules, video library resources, and coaching sessions that are aimed to improve early childhood teachers': (1) knowledge of early mathematics and executive function, (2) ability to observe effective classroom instruction, and (3) identify targeted and foundational strategies that will increase children’s mathematics and EF skill development.

Teacher Engaged in Online Learning

Intentional Teaching Model

As part of the STEP program, teachers engage in an intentional teaching and professional development process that promotes learning, planning, practicing, and reflecting. These four steps are designed to help teacher improve their instruction in the areas of early mathematics and executive function.

Teacher and Coach

Child Outcomes

STEP is designed to help teacher support children in gaining the critical mathematics and EF skills they need. By understanding how children’s mathematics and EF are inter-related, teachers can intentionally focus on supporting both skills within mathematics instruction. STEP helps children gain skills across five early math areas, as well as three related EF skills.

Teacher and Boy Working on Shapes