Fostering PreK–Elementary Alignment of Math Teaching and Learning

PreK to Third Grade Alignment

DREME’s COHERE Research Project

  • Both districts elevated their directors of early learning to high level positions in their organizational charts to raise the profile of early childhood education and signal commitment to support for early education.
  • Almond Valley moved kindergarten from the K–12 curriculum and instruction department to the early learning department, with the goal of strengthening the connection between preschool and elementary.
  • Both districts established single-site leadership at elementary schools that have preschool classrooms on site, making principals responsible for overseeing preK classrooms in addition to the elementary grades.
  • Almond Valley pursued math teaching and learning alignment in the context of broader district-wide efforts to align instructional supports. The district’s approach emphasized professional learning for school leaders, including a class designed by the early learning department to help principals support teacher instruction in the early grades.
  • Cypress Unified relied less than Almond Valley on district-wide structures to foster preK–3 math alignment, instead investing heavily on aligning mathematics teaching and learning across preK through 12thgrade. In particular, Cypress put considerable effort on aligning math curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and teacher professional development.
  • Almond Valley used three different commercially available math curricula, one each for preK, transitional kindergarten (TK), and elementary. The district tried to create continuity through pacing guides that tied the curriculum to the standards. Cypress Unified, on the other hand, developed its own math curriculum all the way from preK through high school. The mathematics department worked closely with the early learning department on the preK and TK curriculum units.
  • The two districts used different approaches to link preK and elementary professional development (PD) in mathematics. In Almond Valley, the district used the same PD format in preK and elementary (district-wide cycles of training), but the PD in preK did not always focus on the same content and pedagogical approaches as those in elementary. Cypress Unified used different PD models for preK (one-on-one coaching and professional learning communities) and elementary (school-based PD), but PD was focused on the same small set of high-leverage pedagogical strategies (e.g., math talks) across both preK and elementary.



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DREME Network

DREME Network


A network of scholars in early math education, conducting research & developing materials to promote young children’s math learning.