Why Japanese students excel at mathematics

Why Japanese students excel at mathematics

Ever since the Common Core state standards were introduced in the United States, teachers for good reason have been under pressure to improve outcomes in math. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card, there were no score improvements in math for any student group in 2015 compared to 2013.

In desperation, officials have looked abroad for a solution, which they believe they’ve finally found in Japanese math. Unlike traditional methods in the U.S. that stress memorization, Japanese math emphasizes problem solving. Its sansu arithmetic aligns with the Common Core standards, providing a strong incentive for teachers to adopt the pedagogy.

The irony is that Japanese math is actually based on a method first advocated in the U.S. by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in the 1980s but never fully adopted by classroom teachers. As a result, memorization continued to be the predominant strategy, with heavy reliance on worksheets.      Read More—