Memorizing times tables has returned to Virginia's Standards of Learning, after a six-year exile, writes Todd Truitt. But he fears districts will ignore state standards and "repeat the same mistake with math that they did with literacy, choosing ideology over science-based instruction."

Truitt cites math education scholar Tom Loveless on the importance of automatic recall of math facts for students who hope to learn algebra and higher math. *"*Math facts are to math as phonics is to reading," Loveless writes.

"Math reformers"** ** denigrate memorizing number facts as “drill and kill” and “rote learning,” just as "whole language" and "balanced literacy" believers dismissed learning phonics, he writes. Their guru is Jo Boaler, an influential Stanford education professor who brags that she "never memorized her times tables."

Boaler has persuaded many math teachers that timed tests cause math anxiety. "A recent peer-reviewed study by leading educational psychologists found Boaler’s math anxiety allegation to be false," writes Truitt. "In fact, automaticity’s timed exercises likely reduce math anxiety since building math skill is the best way to prevent math anxiety, which requires timed practice for math facts."

In England, the teachers' union is pressuring the government to cut back on testing students on times tables, reports James Tapsfield in the *Daily Mail*. It's not necessary, they say.

"All the evidence is that children knowing their times tables by heart is an essential precondition for more sophisticated mathematics, particularly things like simplifying equations and algebra," said Nick Gibb, the former education minister.

When I was a Harvard undergraduate (1970-1974), Harvard offered Math Ar, "Remedial Math." I think it covered Algebra I through first-year calculus. The "r" in the course id ("Ar") indicated that it could be taken repeatedly for credit. It's not clear that this story is news.

It's not "drill and kill", it's "drill and skill".

Do you sound out every word when you read, or eventually do you get to a point where you recognize some "sight words"? The multiplication tables are math's "sight words".

It's amazing that some people continue to denigrate such simple knowledge, closing future doors for students that they don't even know were closed to them. If an outside power did this to us we'd rightly see it as a national security threat.