The National Numeracy Network and Quantitative Literacy

Click here for lots of information about the various
Numeracy and Quantitative Literacy initiatives across the country.

On this page are links to materials produced for the National Numeracy Network under a grant from the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation through the National Council on Education and the Disciplines.

The materials take the form of  brief modules that are envisioned as a resource for teachers to use in a classroom setting and also for quantitative literacy workshops for teachers.

Each module typically contains one or two examples related to "real world" quantitative
literacy issues and includes exercises for students. We have tried to focus on examples taken from publications and web sites that lead to serious questions about real issues, such as drug testing and consumer decisions. We have tried to stay away from standard types of contrived problems that one typically finds in standard elementary math textbooks.

There is also a section "for the instructor" that contains discussions of some of the topics, solutions to the exercises, and resources for further explorations.

Many of the topics that are discussed in these modules may not be found in the traditional
K-14 curriculum - certainly not in most mathematics courses. This should not be surprising.
Indeed, Quantitative Literacy has been referred to as "everybody's orphan" because of this
neglect. It is a goal of the National Numeracy Network to address this problem.

Each module states the grade levels for which it is intended: typically somewhere from  7 -
14. Of course, grade level distinctions are very fuzzy and the suggested levels are only

The appropriateness of the grade level usually depends more on the subject matter and reading level required than on the "math concepts." Indeed, the mathematics involved is usually very elementary, but its applications can be subtle and thought provoking. Many of the questions require careful critical thinking and a certain maturity to answer rather than a knowledge of mathematics.

Even when students may not be able to fully grasp everything presented, we believe that there are still opportunities in the modules for exposing them to situations involving interesting quantitative issues.  It is to be hoped that this may help spark their interest in understanding more about these issues and to appreciate the usefulness of being quantitatively literate.

Numeracy and Driving I: Issues of Speed (revised  10/4/02)
Numeracy and Driving II: Consumer Issues (revised  10/04/02)
Misleading Aggregates (revised  10/04/02)
Misleading Averages (revised  10/04/02)
Understanding Big Numbers (revised  10/04/02)
Miscellaneous Consumer Issues (revised  10/09/02)
Drug Testing (revised  10/09/02)
Polls (revised  10/22/02)
Credit (revised  10/22/02)
Lotteries (revised  10/22/02)
DNA Testing (revised 11/15/02)
Likelihood of Cancer (revised 11/15/02)
Causes of Death (revised 11/15/02)
Teen Vehicle Deaths (revised 11/15/02)

Crime Statistics(revised 12/02)
Home Utilities (revised 12/02)
Job Statistics(revised 12/02)

Suggestions and constructive criticisms are welcome. Please email them to