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Alabama lawmakers working to improve math skills in elementary schools, but some teachers not on board with new bill

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama lawmakers are working to pass a bill to help improve elementary school student’s math scores. It’s called The Numeracy Act.

The bill would give more resources to students in K-5th grade to help with low math scores, but officials with the teachers union said the bill is unfair to administrators.

“As I was reading this bill, I was just shocked,” President of the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers, Marrianne Hayward, said. “Surveys show that fifty percent of teachers are seriously considering retirement or leaving the profession and then Alabama wants to put this on teachers. It is just unbelievable.”

If passed, The Numeracy Act would require all K-5 teachers to spend an hour a day on math instruction and give regular math screenings. It would also require each school to assign one math coach for every 500 students.

“I like part of it,” Hayward said. “I think math coaches in schools is going to be very helpful. No school employee or educator wants students to be scoring so low in math. We want all these scaffolding helps we can get and when the legislature is willing to put money into it, that is great. We need that.”

The bill will focus on schools with lower test scores and it says if a school’s scores don’t increase after a certain amount of time, administrators could be fired or the public school could become a charter school.

“It is so wrong to punish the teachers and the administrators,” Hayward said. ”To put all those punitive measures on teachers and administrators is just unfair.”

Hayward said she worries if passed, the bill could cause the teacher shortage to become even worse.

“The math teachers in the schools now would want to be the math coaches, which would leave vacancies for math teachers, which would be hard to fill,” she said.

Hayward said overall, Alabama students do need help in math, but jobs shouldn’t be at risk if grades don’t improve.

“The school can control what happens in those six and a half hours of instructional time,” Hayward said. “We don’t control what happens when that child goes home, what they do that evening, what happens in their neighborhood or community that night or how they woke up. We only have control during the time they come to school. It’s making them responsible for things they can’t control.”

The Numeracy Act bill was passed through the Senate and is now just waiting for the House’s approval.

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