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Definition of Quantitative Literacy

Quantitative literacy is knowledge of and confidence with basic mathematical/analytical concepts and operations required for problem-solving, decision-making, economic productivity and real-world applications; this entails the ability to:

  • Competently perform basic computational/arithmetic operations;
  • Demonstrate skills at estimating and approximating results;
  • Perform basic algebraic and/or logical operations that involve levels of abstraction;
  • Demonstrate basic problem-solving skills; and
  • Show competence in applied analytical skills.

A person who is competent in Quantitative Literacy should be able to:

  1. Perform basic computational/arithmetic operations 
    This includes being competent with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, without the use of a calculator or similar device.
  2. Demonstrate skills at estimating and approximating results 
    This includes being able to recognize the range of possible answers and note when a proposed solution is theoretically impossible (e.g. 30% of x cannot be larger than “x” itself.
  3. Perform basic algebraic and/or logical operations that involve levels of abstraction 
    This includes being able to translate a problem into a mathematical model or algebraic equation, use variables (such as x, y, z to stand for unknown quantities), solve simple algebraic equations, and have a general knowledge of other notational systems (such as mathematical symbols and variables, propositional logic, computer programming language, etc.).
  4. Demonstrate basic problem-solving skills 
    This includes being able to define problems, devise a plan to solve the problem, utilize a basic set of criteria or restraints on possible solutions, analyze and evaluate proposed solutions, recognize unwarranted assumptions, consider alternative explanations, and check solutions against given data and/or initial conditions.
  5. Show competence in applied analytical skills 
    This includes being able to structure arguments, demonstrate inductive and deductive reasoning skills, weigh evidence, draw inferences, perform basic statistical operations, read and understand simple graphs, perform simple data analysis, handle basic financial operations (like balancing a checkbook, calculating interest), and transfer mathematical and analytical skills to other disciplines and real-world situations.