Precision Mathematics: An Impact Study in First-Grade Classrooms


The purpose of this National Science Foundation-sponsored impact study is to test the efficacy of Precision Mathematics (PM-1) on the mathematics outcomes of first-grade multilingual and monolingual students who face mathematics difficulties. Specifically, this project investigates whether and to what extent the PM-1 intervention increases student mathematics achievement and fosters language development in the STEM disciplines (see UT News story on PM-1).

PM-1 is a small-group intervention that embraces an “integrated” STEM approach by connecting foundational concepts, problem-solving skills, and vocabulary of early measurement and data analysis and situating them within engaging, science-based activities. These activities serve as an ideal platform for first-grade students to apply and strengthen their understanding of whole numbers and operations, and engage in rich, purposeful mathematics discourse.

PM-1 is composed of eight “investigative units” that are grounded in the disciplinary core ideas within the first-grade life and earth science topics in the Next Generation Science Standards (2013). Each unit is delivered across 4 consecutive days, 30 minutes per session, for 8 weeks (32 lessons total). These disciplinary core ideas provide students with meaningful science-based contexts when solving important mathematics problems.


This study uses a randomized controlled trial design. Within each participating first-grade classroom, eight students with or at risk for mathematics difficulties, as determined through a teacher nomination process, will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (a) PM-1 or (b) control (business as usual).


Approximately 750 monolingual and multilingual first-grade students from 125 first-grade classrooms


Texas public school districts


Findings from a randomized controlled trial involving approximately 100 first-grade students suggest the PM-1 program’s “promise” to produce beneficial mathematics outcomes for struggling learners, including multilingual students (Doabler et al., 2019). In this original work, positive effects were reported on the five outcome measures. Results also suggest preliminary evidence of differential response based on students’ number sense and early literacy risk status, such that students at greater risk appeared to reap greater benefit from the intervention.