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Closing Gaps: Teaching and Learning Math in the Early Grades
Early math achievement is critical, but what determines how much math young children learn and how can math achievement be improved? This Technical Cooperation seeks to build upon the groundbreaking study in Ecuador, Closing Gaps, to answer that question. Closing Gaps began at the request of the Government of Ecuador in 2012, when an incoming cohort of approximately 15,000 kindergarten children in 202 schools was randomly assigned to their teachers. These children have been randomly re-assigned to teachers year after year in their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades, meaning that Closing Gaps offers a truly unique opportunity to answer some of the most pressing questions about how to improve student mathematics learning. In no country, developed or developing, has there been an experiment that randomly assigned children to teachers in multiple grades.

Specifically, this TC will answer a number of very important questions that both directly and indirectly impact mathematics learning and teaching in elementary school, and will be of great practical use to policy makers in the region. Among them, do children who had a better math teacher in, say, kindergarten or first grade have higher math scores upon graduation from elementary school? Does having a better math teacher in 1st grade matter more or less than having a better math teacher in 4th grade? Are children who had better elementary math teachers more likely to continue on to secondary school? Is the total cumulative effect of having two good teachers greater than the simple sum of the effects of those two individual teachers? Under what circumstances are teachers effective in ensuring that girls, whose math achievement lags behind that of boys, learn math skills? The answers to these questions will allow for more effective and precise policies to improve math learning and teaching in Ecuador and throughout Latin America.
Furthermore, this TC will collect data to compare how math is taught in different classrooms and identify the most effective practices for optimizing student learning. Do teachers who spend more time in intentional, focused math teaching (relative to teaching other subjects) produce more math learning? What is the optimal amount of time spent teaching basic math computations (like addition or subtraction) as opposed to developing children's deeper understanding of math concepts?
The questions to be answered by this TC have never before been rigorously investigated in Latin America. Not only does the TC offer a unique opportunity to understand how young children learn and how to best support their teachers, but these questions have significant and direct implications for pre-service and in-service teacher training, and for curriculum design.

Project Detail



Project Number


Approval Date

July 5, 2017

Project Status


Project Type

Technical Cooperation





Lending Instrument


Lending Instrument Code




Facility Type


Environmental Classification

Likely to cause minimal or no negative environmental and associated social impacts

Total Cost

USD 1,000,000.00

Country Counterpart Financing

USD 0.00

Original Amount Approved

USD 1,000,000.00

Financial Information
Operation Number Lending Type Reporting Currency Reporting Date Signed Date Fund Financial Instrument
ATN/KP-16213-EC Sovereign Guaranteed USD - United States Dollar Korea Poverty Reduction Fund Nonreimbursable
Operation Number ATN/KP-16213-EC
  • Lending Type: Sovereign Guaranteed
  • Reporting Currency: USD - United States Dollar
  • Reporting Date:
  • Signed Date:
  • Fund: Korea Poverty Reduction Fund
  • Financial Instrument: Nonreimbursable

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Other Documents
EC-T1373_TC Document_post QRR.pdf
Jul. 05, 2017
Preparation Phase
TC Abstract
TC abstract_EC-T1373_published.pdf
Jun. 07, 2017
Implementation Phase
Technical Cooperation Agreement
Carta Convenio - Enseñanza y aprendizaje de matemáticas en los primeros grados.pdf
Oct. 18, 2018

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