A unique approach to math helps boost achievement for children in school

How much is 5 + 3? At the First People’s Center for Education, they know that a significant group of young Native American children would try to count their fingers to find the answer, even if they should be old enough already to add the numbers up in their head. Educators would say that they don’t have “number sense,” lacking the ability to “compose” and “decompose” numbers. Many American Indian students are lagging when it comes to proficiency in reading and math. The First People’s Center for Education, a small nonprofit, has found a way to change this. They train teachers at poor, mostly Native American schools to use different approaches in numeracy. With good results. Before 2006, when First People’s came to schools with a lot of Native American children, less than a quarter of the school’s third-graders were rated “proficient” or higher on the state’s standardized math test. Since then, more than 60 percent have achieved this benchmark annually.

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A unique approach to math helps boost achievement for children in school

How much is 5 + 3? At the First People’s Center for Education, they know that a significant group of young Native American children would try to count their fingers to find the answer, even if they should be old enough already to add the numbers up in their head. Educators would say that they don’t have “number sense,” lacking the ability to “compose” and “decompose” numbers. Many American Indian students are lagging when it comes to proficiency in reading and math. The First People’s Center for Education, a small nonprofit, has found a way to change this. They train teachers at poor, mostly Native American schools to use different approaches in numeracy. With good results. Before 2006, when First People’s came to schools with a lot of Native American children, less than a quarter of the school’s third-graders were rated “proficient” or higher on the state’s standardized math test. Since then, more than 60 percent have achieved this benchmark annually.

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