Math Fact Fluency
Math fact fluency is the quick and effortless recall of basic math facts. When students achieve automaticity with these facts, they can retrieve them from long-term memory almost instantly and without conscious effort or attention.
A student who needs to stop and think about the answer to a math fact isn’t fluent with that fact, even if she eventually arrives at the correct answer.
Path to Fluency
Prior to building fluency with math facts, students must be able to demonstrate certain prerequisites.
For addition and subtraction, students should demonstrate understanding of:
- Place value
- Counting-on or counting-down to correctly solve addition or subtraction problems
For multiplication and division, students should demonstrate understanding of:
- Grouping objects to solve multiplication and division problems
- Skip-counting or using repeated addition or subtraction to solve multiplication and division problems
Once students meet the prerequisites of a set of operations and begin to show recall of some facts, they are ready to begin building fluency. As students build fluency with Reflex, teachers should continue to build full conceptual understanding of the operations with multi-digit operations.
Impact of Math Fact Fluency
When students achieve automaticity, they can retrieve facts from long-term memory without conscious attention to the process. This frees up their working memory to focus on other tasks such as problem solving and learning new concepts and skills.
Lack of math fact fluency impedes student progress in learning new procedures, skills or concepts because working memory becomes overloaded with solving simple facts in an effortful manner. Watch our videos for more information on working memory and automaticity and the brain.
Extensive research has demonstrated the critical role of fact fluency in elementary school level mathematics and beyond and is underscored by studies that show it is a significant predictor of performance on standardized tests.
Furthermore, the significance of fact retrieval speed as a predictor of performance is not limited to test items that directly assess computation — it also predicts performance on math concept problems, word problems, data interpretation problems, and mathematical reasoning items.