By RANDY TATANO
Special to Atmore News
The 2022 Alabama Numeracy Act requires K-5 schools to have a math coach by the year 2027.
The Escambia County School System isn’t waiting four years.
Math coaches have already been hired and recently returned from a training session in Birmingham. They’ll be hitting the ground running when the new school year begins in August.
School system Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Nicole Spottswood felt there was no point in waiting to hire math coaches.
“I wanted to get a head start on this initiative and hire a building-based math coach for each of the seven schools that house elementary students,” she said. “The school board approved this proposal. Along with our own district plans to improve mathematic proficiency, the 2022 Alabama Numeracy Act is the state’s comprehensive plan to improve mathematics proficiency of public school K-5 grade students and to ensure that those students are mathematically
proficient at or above grade level by the end of fifth grade.”
The coaches will build on last year’s success during which the system implemented a new program called “Do the Math.” In the fall of 2022, only eight percent of students were at or above grade level in math. By the end of the school year, that number had increased to 41 percent. Adding math coaches can only help those scores continue to improve.
Superintendent Michele McClung, herself a former math teacher, noted the importance of hiring the math coaches to help teachers.
“One of the greatest needs in education is in the field of math,” she sad. “Elementary math teachers get very little foundational math preparation in college. Often times elementary teachers struggle understanding the concepts they are required to teach, the depth at which they are to teach the standards and often lack strategies teaching difficult mathematical standards. Hiring math coaches will allow us to further train teachers with grade specific content, highlight common student misconceptions when teaching math, pull and align resources to better engage our students, and work together as a team to continually improve teaching and learning.”
Spottswood says being proficient in math is the key to a student’s future.
“Every Alabama child needs foundational math skills to be successful in career and life,” she said.
Brewton resident Randy Tatano is a veteran TV news reporter and network producer, and is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System.