Longitudinal Comparison of Montessori versus Non-Montessori Students’ Place-Value and Arithmetic Knowledge

Keywords: arithmetic, base-10, place-value, Montessori, early childhood mathematics


Base-10 and place value understanding are important foundational math concepts that are associated with higher use of decomposition strategies and higher accuracy on addition problems (Laski, Ermakova, & Vasilyeva, 2014; Fuson, 1990; Fuson & Briars, 1990; National Research Council, 2001). The current study examined base-10 knowledge, place value, and arithmetic accuracy and strategy use for children in early elementary school from Montessori and non-Montessori schools. Children (N = 150) were initially tested in either kindergarten or first grade. We followed up with a subgroup of the sample (N = 53) two years later when the children were in 2nd and 3rd grade. Although Montessori curriculum puts a large emphasis on the base-10 structure of number, we found that children from Montessori schools only showed an advantage on correct use of base-10 canonical representation in kindergarten but not in first grade. Moreover, there were no program differences in place value understanding in 2nd and 3rd grade. Although Montessori children used different strategies to obtain answers to addition problems in 2nd and 3rd grade as compared with non-Montessori children, there were no program differences in addition accuracy at any grade level. Educational implications are discussed. 


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