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This Basic Math Skill Could Be Holding You Back In Life

Vivian Giang


There's a fundamental math skill that many Americans never learn, leading to many negative repercussions later in life, according to new research.

It's called number system knowledge and refers to  the ability to conceptualize a numeral as a symbol for a quantity and understand systematic relationships between numbers.

Basically it's how well you understand different forms of numbers.

University of Missouri researchers identified a correlation between deficiency in this area and low scores on a seventh grade math test, which in turn correlates with lower employability and wages and an adult.

“An early deficit in number system knowledge creates a weak foundation for later learning,” said lead author David Geary. “That weak foundation can lead to a lifetime of problems, not limited to reduced employment opportunities. Poor understanding of mathematical concepts can make a person easy prey for predatory lenders. Numerical literacy, or numeracy, also helps with saving for big purchases and managing mortgages and credit card debt.”

The best solution to this problem better early childhood education, with intervention programs to help deficient kids. But it can't hurt for even adults to study up.

One in five adults in the United States lack the math competency expected of an eight grader, according to the U.S. Center for Educational Statistics.

Basic math deficiencies disqualify a shocking number of candidates at places like General Plastics Manufacturing Co. in Tacoma, Wash., according to  Renee Schoof at McClatchy Newspapers.

Linda Gojak, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, says that U.S. schools focus too much on teaching by rote. Her group is trying to “help teachers teach mathematics so kids make sense of what they’re doing and it really does stick beyond what they learn in class," according to McClatchy.

Americans rank below average in math compared to other developed countries and regions participating in the Program for International Student Assessment test.

School reported that 54 percent of high school graduates scored so low on their ACT scores in 2012 that they weren't actually ready to enter math classes in college. T he government is currently pushing to set higher standards in math and English for students from kindergarten through high school. So far, forty-five states have adopted the  Common Core standards initiative.

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