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### Putting One Over Two: The Relationship between Fractions and Success in Secondary Math Education

"Why do I need to know this?" Almost every teacher has heard this cringe-worthy statement from a student who isn’t interested in the subject matter. While there are countless benefits to leaning math, it turns out there another reason that students need to master basic skills.

According to a new study by Robert S. Siegler and other researchers, a student’s success in upper level mathematics can be predicted based on their aptitude with fractions and long division in elementary school. The study controlled for I.Q., family income, gender, and a range of other factors. Across all controls groups, a student’s mastery of fractions and long division early-on led to an increased ability to master upper level mathematics in their secondary education.  In other words, a student who does well with fractions and long division in elementary school is more likely to do will with calculus in high school, regardless of their background or overall intelligence.

So, next time a student asks you why it is important to learn about fractions or long division, you have a simple answer: today’s basic conceptual understanding will make it easier when the math gets a lot harder!

Why does mastery of fractions and long division equate to success in high school math?  Does the application of problem solving techniques, such as finding the least common denominator, help the brain develop a mathematical knack early on? Or maybe frustration at an early age in mathematics turns them off to future interest in the subject. Why does this happen? Share your thoughts and experiences about the relationship between fundamentals and advanced concepts in math education.

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The Math Hub is a place for  sharing  expertise on math education and the use of adaptive technology to increase student achievement. We invite you to enhance our conversation by submitting your own comments.

Bloggers are compensated by Scholastic. The opinions expressed by the authors on this blog should not be taken to reflect the opinions of Scholastic or Tom Snyder Productions.

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