To the Editor:
How heartening to read the article, “Why Does Fact Fluency Matter in Math? 4 Educators Offer Answers” (Dec. 7, 2023). Math fact fluency is a timely issue, as evidenced by the most recent international test scores and the nation’s report card showing that U.S. students are behind in math. Declining math test scores and the attending implications were a focal point at the 2023 Institute of Education Sciences Math Summit. Education leaders at the summit stated the urgent need to address this problem, and developing math fact fluency was prominently discussed as being part of the solution.
Having taught 2nd grade for 30 years, I can attest to the profound benefits of students developing this fluency by the end of the K-2 grade band. As the article states, math fact fluency frees up brainpower for higher-order problem-solving and may lead to improving students’ ability to apply what they know to other math problems.
Year in and year out in my classroom, I witnessed that attaining fact fluency opens the door to flexible thinking. Flexible thinking engenders confidence and with confidence comes joy. When students feel confident and find joy in doing math, they are more willing to engage and take risks. This all creates more opportunities for them to feel and be successful, which is at the heart of a positive math identity. And a positive math identity means students will be more likely to continue and be successful in math.
Thank you for shining a light on this important topic!
Lisa Watts Lawton
Lead Curriculum Developer
Eureka Math and Eureka Math Squared
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2024 edition of Education Week as Students Need Math Fact Fluency