We make a prima facie case for identifying a single pathway in the learning of Hindu Arabic numerical symbols and discuss why this ability may be a critical gateway concept in developing mathematical competencies. A representative sample of English and Scottish children were assessed using a number symbol identification paradigm in the PIPS Baseline assessment at the beginning and end of their first school year. Through a Rasch analysis of real and simulated data, we show that 1) there appears to be a single, unidimensional pathway in learning to identify number symbols with discrete difficulty stages, 2) on examination of differential item functioning, this pathway is invariant across gender, country, socioeconomic background, first language and across the first year of schooling, and 3) almost all children make progress along the pathway during the year. A number identification scale may thus be a universal ruler by which all pupils could be assessed.
Cramman, H., Gott, S., Little, J., Merrell, C., Tymms, P., & Copping, L. (2018). Number Identification: A Unique Developmental Pathway in Mathematics? Research Papers in Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2018.1536890