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Hartselle Enquirer

Alabama Senate targets improvement of elementary math education 

Special to the Enquirer  

The Alabama State Senate this past week voted to approve legislation to enhance the mathematic proficiency of public elementary students.  

Sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who serves as Finance and Taxation Education chairman, and co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, who serves as the Education Policy chairman, the Alabama Numeracy Act prohibits the use of the curriculum standards commonly known as the Common Core State Standards in public kindergarten through 12th-grade schools. 

“Only a third of our school systems, or 10 percent of fourth- through eighth-grade students, are proficient in math,” said Orr. “This is an alarming statistic we cannot ignore any longer.  

“There has been no urgency to attempt to improve math instruction in our schools, and the result is that we are failing these children. The responsibility falls on us to help propose solutions,” Orr continued. “The Numeracy Act provides for the hiring of hundreds of math coaches to support our educators in the classroom – to help them, train them and show them the latest techniques. It also establishes a framework for accountability to ensure student success.  

“Because of the legislature’s conservative budgeting approach over the past decade, we have the means needed to invest in our students and teachers.  

“I appreciate Sen. Melson and my colleagues in the Senate for their support on this critical piece of legislation.” 

Melson said “we cannot be complacent” with the state of Alabama “being dead last in math education.”  

“It is a shame Alabama students are not getting the education they deserve, and it is time for lawmakers to step up and provide real solutions to better education across the state,” Melson added. “I applaud Chairman Orr for his leadership and continued efforts to create more support for our teachers to provide a successful environment for our students.  

“The Numeracy Act is a significant step in the right direction, and it will greatly impact the education our children receive, positioning them for a brighter future.” 

The Numeracy Act provides for further improved mathematics instruction in public schools and a means for increasing grade-level proficiency in mathematics for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.  

It establishes and provides summer learning programs, assessment tests, accountability standards for teachers and principals and additional training and standards for teacher education programs. 

It also requires the state superintendent and the state board of education to terminate the flexibility waiver agreement with the United States Department of Education regarding the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which includes the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. 

 The Numeracy Act now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.