Alabama lawmakers OK math initiative for elementary students

March 30, 2022 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday gave final approval to a math initiative that will use instructional coaches, assessments and interventions to try to boost the state’s perpetually lagging test scores.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 76-24 for the Senate-passed bill dubbed the Alabama Numeracy Act. The Alabama Senate accepted House changes to the bill that now goes to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Sen Arthur Orr, the sponsor of the bill, said the goal is to make sure elementary students in kindergarten through fifth grades have an adequate foundation in math so they can succeed in school and later in adult life.

“If we don’t provide a strong foundation for them in mathematics and in literacy, the problem becomes they get frustrated in school and tend to drop out or misbehave,” Orr, a Republican from Decatur, said.

The bill would create an Elementary Mathematics Task Force to provide state education officials with recommendations for core instruction and mathematics intervention; use assessments to identify students in kindergarten through fifth grades; provide intervention and summer learning programs; and deploy instructional coaches to elementary schools.

ADVERTISEMENT

The math coaches, like current reading coaches, would work with teachers on improving instruction and not directly with students.

Schools that continued to lag in performance could face state intervention if they do not meet progress targets.

Alabama’s math performance in fourth and eighth grades ranked last among states in the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “The Nation’s Report Card.”

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Rep. Barbara Drummond, a Democrat from Mobile, said during debate.

The Legislative Services Agency estimates the Numeracy Act will cost the state $114 million each year. The hiring of the math coaches would be the largest expense, costing about $80 million annually.