Comprehending First Grade Math May Predict Future
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- Money, driving, and health, are just some of the things that involves math every day.
Experts say the way students learn math skills at a young age plays a key role in how they deal with math later on in life.
Educational studies show one in five adults are proficient in math only up to the 8th grade, which got Mesa County School District 51 to change up the math curriculum.
"We just decided that wasn't good enough for kids in our district. One in five is not a great percentage and we wanted to do better," said Elizabeth Zitterkopf, elementary math content specialist.
The school district had math programs varying from school to school; leaving some kids who moved to a new school either duplicating or missing math lessons.
"When I was a teacher, we had three or four different things going on. There was no consistency from kindergarten through fifth grade," said Zitterkopf.
With the below average math testing scores, and the various programs, the district switched over to a new consistent math program.
"The medium growth percentile from third through fifth grade, and also the number of kids who are proficient in advance math have been steadily increasing since that time," said Zitterkopf.
Experts say math competency can all comes down to first graders.
"Wherever kids come in, in first grade in terms of number sense, that it was a great predictor of how they were going to do in high school math," said Zitterkopf. "It's really important that kids have a conceptual understanding of numbers."
For example, making sure first grade students know not only how to count to six, but how to count to six in various ways using different numbers.
"It's kids who have that, who are successful later on," said Zitterkopf.
Officials say parents shouldn't worry if their children aren't picking up those skills right away.
"The cool thing about it is, we now know those gaps that need to be filled in. If you get a kid in fourth grade who's struggling, we have a responsibility as teachers to know how that falls out. We can teach them wherever they are and fill in those holes, and then get them back on the right trajectory," said Zitterkopf.
The district now ranks above the state average for third through 10th graders in math scores.
Officials say the elementary schools from third to fifth grade have been increasing significantly and are closing the gap for the state medium growth percentile.
Officials say it's important for parents to work on math with their kids while in the grocery store, or at the bank. They also encourage children to start counting backwards more.