The (US) National Center for Education Statistics, in its 1993 Report of the National Adult Literacy Survey, defines quantitative literacy as:The knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic operations, either alone or sequentially, using numbers embedded in printed material (e.g., balancing a checkbook, completing an order form).
– National Center for Education Statistics
The UK’s Department for Children, Schools and Families defines numeracy in their National Strategy documents as follows:Numeracy is a proficiency which is developed mainly in mathematics, but also in other subjects. It is more than an ability to do basic arithmetic. It involves developing confidence and competence with numbers and measures. It requires understanding of the number system, a repertoire of mathematical techniques, and an inclination and ability to solve quantitative or spatial problems in a range of contexts. Numeracy also demands understanding of the ways in which data are gathered by counting and measuring, and presented in graphs, diagrams, charts and tables.
– Department for Education and Skills (UK)
The UK’s definition captures the essence of the Eight Standards for Mathematical Practice that have been defined by the Common Core State Standards for School Mathematics. These mirror Tennessee’s eight Mathematical Processes in Standard 1 of our Mathematics Curriculum Framework that were developed from the five NCTM Process Standards: problem solving, reasoning and proof, communications, connections, and representation.
Numeracy is more than an understanding of basic mathematical skills. It also includes the propensity to apply mathematics and be comfortable with logic and reasoning. The development of numeracy in young children begins with experiences with numbers, shapes, patterns, etc. The learning of mathematics is experiential. Especially with today’s “Digital Native” learners, as Marc Prensky calls the students of today, the need to deal with quantitative data is every bit as important as dealing with verbal information. With the computer and the Internet, students must now be able to comprehend the quantitative data they find as well as transform it into something they can use. Unfortunately, too many times, students have unbalanced experiences in learning how to be equipped to deal with verbal information vs. how to be equipped to deal with quantitative information. More time needs to be spent with students developing their sense of numeracy as well as their understanding of abstract mathematics.
Refer back to the website often as we will highlight games and activities that educators and parents can use to help students develop numeracy.