While Miyagi Prefecture has been striving to improve the academic performance of its elementary and junior high school students, the town of Ogawara in the prefecture stands out, with students’ scores topping the national average in the National Achievement Test.

This year, to the surprise of the education community, the average percentage of correct answers in the test by the town’s sixth graders was one of the highest in the nation. Among the factors behind the success was the town’s school education that draws out independent thinking of the children and its interactive communication with their families.

During a math class for the third graders at Ogawara Elementary School in late September, a teacher introduced two formulas: 75x5x2 and 5x2x75. “Make groups of four students each and write on the board what you found out about the same and different points of the two formulas,” the teacher called on students.