K-2 mathematics research toolkit

Implement professional dialogue about mathematics K-2 in your school or professional learning network using text-based protocols and core thinking routines for leaders.

The mathematics K-2 syllabus includes:

  • a new structure that highlights foundational numeracy skills
  • significant revision to the structure and naming of the sub-strands
  • a new aim, rationale, and other introductory components that are informed by evidence
  • new outcomes and content that are informed by evidence and identify skills needed by all students to develop competence in mathematics
  • a greater emphasis on the development of reasoning for students to support a deep understanding of mathematical concepts
  • one overarching outcome for working mathematically that describes the thinking and doing of mathematics
  • content groups that assist teachers to identify key knowledge and skills for each focus area
  • key progress points have been developed by NESA. They provide examples of tasks that teachers may use to investigate student understanding and progress.
  • examples that have been separated from the content. This makes it clearer what is syllabus content and what is provided as support.
  • access points for students with significant intellectual disability
  • teaching advice to support understanding of the content of the syllabus and to make informed pedagogical decisions.

The syllabus for mathematics K-2 is based on evidence that highlights the importance of:

  • understanding the symbols that represent quantity
  • learning the sequence of counting words and making the association between the words and quantities
  • learning different ways of representing quantity – objects, words and symbols – as well as understanding that ten (10), for example, is not only a word or symbol but a combination of different number pairs, such as 5 and 5, 4 and 6, or 3 and 7
  • knowing how to use 10 and 100 as units
  • identifying links between measurement, space and number
  • understanding how structures are organised and related
  • being able to provide the reasoning behind the solution to a problem.

Mathematics K-2 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, (2021).

Research tools

Each research article, snapshot of the research and an 'Unpacking the research evidence base' slide show complements each other.

The following titles could be added to the school’s professional reading library to support the implementation of the mathematics K-2 syllabus.

  • Boaler J, Munson J and Williams C (2020) Mindset mathematics: Visualising and investigating big ideas grade K, John Wiley and Sons, US.
  • Boaler J, Munson J and Williams C (2020) Mindset mathematics: Visualising and investigating big ideas grade 2, John Wiley and Sons, US.
  • Mulligan J, Mitchelmore M, Marston J, Highfield K and Kemp C (2008) Promoting mathematical pattern and structure in the first year of schooling: An intervention study, International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education: In Proceedings of the Joint Meeting of PME, 4:1–8.
  • Reys R, Rogers A, Bragg L, Cooke A and Fanshawe M. (2021) Helping children learning mathematics, John Wiley and Sons, Australia.
  • Sarama J and Clements D (2008) Mathematics in early childhood, in Saracho O and Spodek B (eds) Contemporary Perspectives on Mathematics in Early Childhood, Education Information Age Publishing Inc, Charlotte, NC.
  • Sullivan P (2011) Teaching mathematics: Using research-informed strategies, Australian Council for Educational Research, Camberwell.
  • Siemon D, Breed M and Virgona J (2005) From additive to multiplicative thinking, in Mousley J, Bragg L, and Campbell C (eds) Mathematics – celebrating achievement, Proceedings 42nd Conference of the Mathematical Association of Victoria, MAV, Melbourne.
  • Siemon D, Warren E, Beswick K, Faragher R and Miller J. (2020) Teaching mathematics: Foundations to middle years 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, ANZ.
  • Van de Walle J, Karp K, Bay-Williams J M, Brass A and Bentley B. (2019) Primary and middle years mathematics: Teaching developmentally, Pearson, Australia.


  • Mathematics

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