# 56% of 8th Graders in India can’t solve basic math problems.

Written by Isha Chakraborty

Bio

Take a deep breath and re-read the title again. ‘56% of 8th graders in India cannot solve basic math problems’

8th-10th grades constitute one of the most academically important phases in a student’s life. It’s at these stages that the child learns to implement concepts they have already learned in their previous grades, albeit with added complexity.

In 2015, India witnessed the passing of a law that stated that no student will fail in their education curve till they reach 8th grade. Although this was a welcome change, the state of education according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) paints a different picture altogether.

In the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), NGO Pratham found that there has been a drop in the math learning curve in the past few years wherein a striking-

1. 56% of 8th-grade students couldn’t divide a triple-digit number with a single digit number
2. 72% of 5th-grade students could not perform simple division at all.
3. 70% of 2nd-grade students could not comprehend mathematical problems involving subtraction.

Not just that, in a shocking revelation, the ASER report also states that many children completing 8th grade are unprepared for higher studies.

So, what do these stats mean?

According to the ASER report, only a quarter of all 3rd grade children are at ‘grade level’. This means that a majority of children need immediate help in acquiring foundational skills in numeracy.

Children studying in the 8th grade have a poor understanding of lower grade concepts.

It’s important to note here that 8th grade math is a cumulation of concepts learned in lower grades. In the current situation however, students are unable to figure out the link between division and simple subtraction.

8th grade students are unable to understand that simple division is basically repeated subtraction, a concept that is taught in the 1st grade itself.

Why is this happening?

There are some key reasons behind the overall downfall in the mathematical literacy in children in the 8th grade:

• Children graduate to higher levels of classes with multiple conceptual learning gaps.

A child with a weak math foundation, or a child who has a weak link in their conceptual understanding of subtraction will find it difficult to grasp and master the concept of division.

Without strong foundational skills it is difficult for children to cope with what is expected of them in upper primary grades.

• Math as a subject is not taught in a way that leaves space for questioning.

Schools follow a very rigid system of teaching math to children, usually following a broadcast form for teaching, wherein one teacher has to cater to the learning needs of an entire class of students.

Learning needs differ from student to student and this system results in some children not grasping math concepts as effectively as other in the classroom.

What can you as a parent do to prevent this?

The problem majorly lies in two aspects:

• A weak math foundation

A weak math foundation will hinder your child from progressively performing better in the higher grades, as they grow older. As I’ve already mentioned before, there is a link between concepts your child learns in the lower grades with the concepts they learn in higher grades.

Regardless of age and grade, it is important to focus immediately on building foundational skills. Without foundations in place, children cannot meaningfully benefit from additional years in school.

A child’s prior learning levels are an important predictor of their continuation into secondary as well as later learning outcomes.

It is therefore imperative that efforts to improve children’s learning levels begin much earlier in their educational trajectories in order to both improve transition from elementary to secondary education as well as ensure minimum levels of ability in

language and arithmetic.

• Broadcast learning, that is unable to cater to individual needs of a child

Every child learns at a different pace, just as they grow at a unique pace. It’s not possible for a single teacher in a school to cater to the unique learning patterns and pace of every child in a class of 30 something students. In such a case, some children learn concepts better, while others lag, resulting in an overall poor performance.

At Cuemath, we understand this and strive to ensure that every child is taught keeping in mind their learning outcomes. We move with the child, ensuring that the foundational base is cemented well before the child can graduate to higher concepts, so as to ensure positive learning outcomes.

Not only is it appalling to see such stats, the numbers also get worse as one progresses to higher levels in their education.On comparing data sets from 2014 and 2018 the percentage of students who can solve basic numerical division problems in different grades showed a positive increase in the lower grades, but by the 8th grade, the number fell from 44.1% in 2014 to 43.9% as of 2018.

It’s high time you put some thought in the way your child learns math at school.