Giving Compass' Take:

· There has been so much emphasis on early childhood literacy that math instruction has become minimal in young classrooms. Sarah Gonser at The Hechinger Report discusses the importance of math skills in the early grades and the long-term effects it has on children.

· How can schools encourage math instruction the way they do literacy? What role do parents play in boosting math skills?

· Read a report about the findings of two early math programs.

In the last decade, educators have focused on boosting literacy skills among low-income kids in the hope that all children will read well by third grade. But the early-grade math skills of these same low-income children have not received equal attention. Researchers say many high-poverty kindergarten classrooms don’t teach enough math and the few lessons on the subject are often too basic. While instruction may challenge kids with no previous exposure to math, it is often not engaging enough for the growing number of kindergarteners with some math skills.

During the last school year, only 40 percent of fourth-graders nationwide scored at a proficient level in a nationwide math assessment. Even more alarming, just 26 percent of Hispanic students and 19 percent of African-American children tested proficient in fourth-grade math. That is significant because strong math skills are needed for some of the fastest growing jobs of the next decade and are requirements for many of the highest paying jobs. Understanding and being able to work with numbers “is a fundamental skill for success in almost any occupation you might choose,” said economist Greg J. Duncan of the University of California Irvine’s School of Education, whose research examines child poverty and education. “It leads to the analytic, higher-level thinking that’s increasingly important.”

Read the full article about boosting math skills by Sarah Gonser at The Hechinger Report.