First through fifth grade math skills that breed later success
For better workers in the future, focusing on first through fifth grade math skills is the place to begin. David Geary, University of Missouri, Curator’s Professor of Psychological Sciences, has determined the foundational math skills students should have in the first grade to succeed in fifth grade and in the workforce later on in “Cognitive Predictors of Achievement Growth in Mathematics: A Five Year Longitudinal Study,” recently published in the journal Developmental Psychology. Controlling for intelligence and working memory, Geary and his team followed 177 students from 12 different elementary schools for five years, from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Good number sense is the link to workforce success
United States Center for Educational Statistics data states that one in five adults lack the math competency expected of an eighth-grader. Geary links that to lack in one particular skill: number sense. This is the ability to conceptualize a numeral as a symbol for a quantity and understand systematic relationships between numbers. The study found that having this knowledge at the beginning of first grade predicted better functional mathematical ability in adolescence and later in life.
Intervention can reverse the trend and improve number sense
The researchers believe that with math intervention programs students can overcome identified challenges, be better prepared for later employment, and strengthen the future U.S workforce.
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