Is Talking the Key to Better Math Performance?

Is language the key to better math performance in schools? An experiment at one small Sutter County school district suggests it may help.

At the Winship-Robbins Elementary School District, the gap between Latinos and whites on the math portion of the Smarter Balanced test is shrinking. That improvement follows a new method for working through math problems, according to EdSource.

“Starting last school year, teachers focused on creating more opportunities for students to talk through word problems with each other and build their ability to recognize and apply math terms, rather than relying on rote memorization,” EdSource reports. Math problems are met with class discussions and thoughtful deliberation over calculation solving.

“If students aren’t talking about their math learning, they won’t have retention,” said Kim Richter, who coordinates curriculum and instruction for the district. “Our English learners particularly need that opportunity to think and read out loud and collaborate with a partner who can support them.”

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