multiplication, Common Core, math fluency, Big BrainzMuch has been said and written about the use of Common Core standards in today’s classrooms, particularly when it comes to CCSS math standards.

Case in point: some educators claim that mastering multiplication tables is less important in the Common Core. But is this claim really true? Let’s take a deeper look.

Multiplication and the Common Core

When it comes to multiplication standards, here’s what Common Core has to say:

CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7 Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

In a nutshell, the more you care about developing higher-order mathematics, the more important fluency becomes.

Now, let’s deconstruct a few Common Core assumptions as they relate to math.

Firstly, no one can accurately say that Common Core doesn’t tout the importance of basic fact memorization. In truth, the CCSS actually elevates the priority of automatic recall–now requiring automatic recall by the end of grade 3. Automaticity is obviously not the end goal of mathematics, but it is an important step.

The above statement represents a critical clarification. Sadly, many students are already failing at math fluency throughout the country. Educational experts who would use the CCSS as a justification for lowering math fluency standards will only exacerbate the problem of trying to teach algebra to 7th-graders who have to stop every five seconds to calculate 6×8.

Secondly, most educators agree that understanding and strategy are partners with fluency–not enemies. Implying otherwise is like saying that you’re going to win football games by tossing out the offensive line so that the quarterback has more room to maneuver. Meanwhile, a solid offensive line can win games.

Finally, automaticity doesn’t impede or detract from strategy and understanding. On the contrary! Automaticity actually contributes to strategic thinking and comprehension.

A Call for Helpful Math-Fluency Tools

At some point, every math teacher needs a reality check. And the reality is, most teachers are still using primitive tools to teach math fluency. Worse, these tools may only lead students to an average 59% math fluency by 5th-grade.

What’s the takeaway? Simple: most teachers are spending too many precious hours without even getting to the finish line!

Big Brainz, educational games, video games in classroom, Imagine ThisImagine Learning understands  how frustrating these issues can be for today’s educators.

When we talk to our math-fluency experts about Big Brainz, they consistently report that an average third grader can master fluency in 4.6 hours on the program, scoring above 95% during post tests.Doesn’t that sound like good strategy?

If educators could toss out Stone-Age tools like flash cards, flash games, and worksheets in exchange for a proven digital solution, they would soon see the end (guaranteed fluency) justify the means (game-based learning).

In the wider mathematics world, multiplication tables will always matter. Math fluency will always lead to better experiences with higher-order math tasks. And the right tools will always pave the way for teachers and students who enjoy math and excel at it.


To learn more about effective math-fact fluency tools, visit our Big Brainz page.