Every child counts! Towards a scalable curriculum for early mathematics.
Last registered on April 10, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Every child counts! Towards a scalable curriculum for early mathematics.
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001195
Initial registration date
April 21, 2016
Last updated
April 10, 2018 3:14 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
MIT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2015-01-05
End date
2016-12-20
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The performance of primary schools in developing countries is weak, especially for the poor. This can be partly attributed to initial differences, which are later magnified by the school system (Banerjee & Duflo, 2011). The massive expansion in school attendance in developing countries has not been matched by increases in school achievement for the poor. In India, 75% of children in grade five cannot perform simple arithmetic and 53% cannot read a grade-two level paragraph (ASER: Pratham, 2013). Because poor children have especially weak preparation for school but strong non-symbolic numerical and geometrical abilities (Spelke, 2011), preschool is a promising time to intervene, with little established curricula. Yet, there is little evidence on effective school-readiness curricula for poor children. Another window of opportunity is the early grades of primary school where laboratory experiments show synergistic effects between school math learning and activities that exercise early numerical abilities (Hyde et al., 2014). There is tremendous interest in the government of India to engage with that level.

In a previous project (“Does non-symbolic math practice in young children improve symbolic mathematics ability later in life? (A pilot study)”, COUHES #1212005420) funded by UBS Optimus Foundation, we developed and evaluated with a RCT run in over 200 preschools in the slums of New Delhi) game-based preschool curriculum designed to enhance children's core numerical and geometric abilities. The short run impact of the curriculum was extremely encouraging: A summary measure of mathematical ability increased by 0.23 standard deviations. Therefore we see that it is possible to significantly enhance preschool non-symbolic math skills in realistic field conditions through games inspired by research in psychology. We also detected improvements in spatial and numerical language. In contrast, children showed no gains in symbolic arithmetic abilities in the short run, perhaps because their formal education had not yet begun.

Can we improve further on these encouraging results, harnessing children’s innate capacities at the foundations of mathematics to give preschool children the skills and confidence to succeed in school? Can we extend our curriculum to enhance children's math learning in primary school? Finally, can we make our interventions “robust” enough to be implemented at scale in pre-schools and in the early grades of primary education?

While we are still tracking the intervention's longer run impact, these promising results encourage us to think about potential improvements to the curriculum to amplify its effectiveness, changes in its implementation so that the program can be scaled up, and expansion of its reach to enhance children's math learning in primary school. These aims motivate work in three directions:
(1) Designing and evaluating a modified curriculum, linking the non-symbolic games to the symbol systems of elementary school mathematics. A new RCT would test its effectiveness against both the original games and Pratham's standard preschool curriculum.
(2) Piloting scale-up avenues by which the games can be mainstreamed in Pratham preschools, in government child care centers, and in other settings.
(3) Piloting the modified math curriculum with primary school children, with the aim of preparing for a new RCT.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Duflo, Esther and Elizabeth Spelke. 2018. "Every child counts! Towards a scalable curriculum for early mathematics. ." AEA RCT Registry. April 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1195/history/27937
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2015-12-28
Intervention End Date
2016-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Can we harness children’s innate capacities at the foundations of mathematics to give preschool children the skills and confidence to succeed in school? Can we extend our curriculum to enhance children's math learning in primary school? Can we make our interventions “robust” enough to be implemented at scale in pre-schools and in the early grades of primary education
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
(1) Designing and evaluating a modified curriculum, linking the non-symbolic games to the symbol systems of elementary school mathematics. A new RCT would test its effectiveness against both the original games and Pratham's standard preschool curriculum.
(2) Piloting scale-up avenues by which the games can be mainstreamed in Pratham preschools, in government child care centers, and in other settings.
(3) Piloting the modified math curriculum with primary school children, with the aim of preparing for a new RCT.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done through Stata Code
Randomization Unit
Cluster based on the zone the pre school belongs to and whether the pre school is based in the community or within a school.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
A total of 240 Pratham pre-schools will form a part of our study.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2160 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Out of these 240 schools, 180 schools will be randomly selected as treatment schools. Among the 180 treatment schools, 60 schools will be randomly allotted to the “Symbolic treatment”, 60 to the “Non- symbolic treatment” and 60 to the “Transition treatment”. The remaining 60 schools will be a part of our control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2015-03-24
IRB Approval Number
1503006959
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Math Games 2 - Endline

MD5: 1a45dec9feeecab4c3d39b94c084a1e7

SHA1: b180fe483680d270515a4d50039c5ad317c101a7

Uploaded At: August 22, 2016

Math Games 2 - Endline 2

MD5: 04c3f1e18493522896f80c055ed82f88

SHA1: 52a70f0836af0275031668f56313d8650982375e

Uploaded At: March 25, 2017

Math Games 2 - Endline 3

MD5: 6f33daaaac5fbabec9302e258a2ba90d

SHA1: d0150520b18d0b8ccc952a46d8a2518d17503892

Uploaded At: November 24, 2017

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers