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Alabama Focuses on Math Scores

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Alabama schools in 2019 finished 52nd in math on the nation’s report card, landing behind 49 states. Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey has unveiled his plan to raise the state’s math scores out of dead last by hiring math coaches.

“That’s been a priority of mine since I took the job,” Mackey told the state school board. Mackey would like to see the state fund 220 math coaches, which will cover the entire state geographically, at a cost of $3.4 million in the 2021 education budget. The cost for those coaches would rise to $20 million in the 2022 budget.

Mackey’s hope is to kick off his math coaching plan the summer of 2021,with 220 coaches, 20 in each of the 11 regions of the state. The coaches would support teachers by helping implement the new math course of study, which was approved at the board’s December meeting and must be implemented by the 2021-22 school year.

The coaching model has been used before in the state and was successful for helping Alabama raise its reading levels.

Mackey says by 2026, a math coach will be available to each and every school that has students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The cost for the first math coach in a district would be $80,000, and in districts with more than one school each additional coach would be funded at $52,000, similar to the funding for reading coaches.

Dr. Kelli Hodge Chambers County School Superintendent, “It’s a great idea on paper; however, there is currently a shortage of math teachers across the state and nation. It is certainly needed, but we need math teachers period.