Fraction knowledge in grade 5 uniquely predicts students’ mathematics achievement in high school. This is true even after controlling for other variables like general intellectual ability, proficiency with whole numbers, working memory, and family income and education levels.1
This means that many students who struggle with fractions will go on to struggle in Algebra and in turn become less likely to progress to more advanced coursework. This effectively cuts them off from the many careers in which mathematical skills are important—including in high-demand STEM fields.
How are we doing?
In a recent national survey of 1,000 Algebra 1 teachers, most rated students’ knowledge of fractions as “poor” and rated fractions as the second greatest barrier to students mastering algebra (second only to word problems).2
As an example, in 1978, less than one-fourth of a nationally representative sample of 20,000 8th graders could answer this question on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): What number is 12/13 + 7/8 closest to? (Answer choices: 1, 2, 19, 21, I don’t know)? The most common answers were 19 and 21. Nearly 40 years later, the results had barely changed.3
“Knowledge of fractions is the most important foundational [math] skill not currently developed among American students.”
- National Mathematics Advisory Panel
Build a strong foundation in math with ExploreLearning
First, we took on the problem of math fact fluency, another major road block and strong predictor of downstream mathematics achievement. The result, ExploreLearning Reflex, combines research-based instructional methods with an adaptive, game-based approach to meet students where they are. Reflex has helped millions of students master their math facts, removing a major obstacle to their future success.
Now, we are ready to do the same for fractions with ExploreLearning Frax. We are taking the latest research and embedding it into an adaptive game-based experience to create a more effective, more fun way to learn fractions.