The Contributions of Numerosity and Domain-General Abilities to School Readiness


  • This research was supported in part by Award RO1 HD053714 and by Core Grant HD15052 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to Vanderbilt University and Award R37 HD045914 cofunded by NICHD and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services award to the University of Missouri. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.

concerning this article should be addressed to Lynn S. Fuchs, 228 Peabody, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203. Electronic mail may be sent to


Contributions of domain-general and domain-specific numerical competencies were assessed on first graders’ number combination skill (NC) and word-problem skill (WP). Students (= 205) between 5 and 7 years of age were assessed on 2 aspects of numerosity, 8 domain-general abilities, NC, and WP. Both aspects of numerosity predicted NC when controlling for domain-general abilities, but domain-general abilities did not account for significant additional variance. By contrast, when controlling for domain-general abilities in predicting WP, only precise representation of small quantities was uniquely predictive, and domain-general measures accounted for significant additional variance; central executive component of working memory and concept formation were uniquely predictive. Results suggest that development of NC and WP depends on different constellations of numerical versus more general cognitive abilities.