Study: Strong basic math skills key to later learning

A new study from the University of Minnesota finds students who struggle to understand basic number concepts in early grades continue to make uncommon mistakes in math later on.

"The nature of the errors that some of these children were making in 8th grade suggests some continued misconceptions about numbers," said Michele Mazzocco, the study's author and professor at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Child Development.

The number errors are common among students in younger grades and most of the time are not a concern, Mazzocco said.

"And yet we have to keep our eyes open for those children whose difficulties are reflective of a deeper numerical or mathematical difficulty so that we can do something about that sooner and help children to develop strong concepts of what numbers mean," Mazzocco said.

She hopes her study helps teachers better identify younger students who struggle to understand number concepts.

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