With last-in-nation ranking, math counterpart proposed to Alabama Literacy Act

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 3:43 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Fifth graders could potentially be at risk for being held back because of their grade in math. The proposed legislation that would do so is similar to the Alabama Literacy Act that requires third graders to be held back if they don’t meet reading benchmarks.

Alabama’s math scores are the lowest in the country, and state Sen. Arthur Orr is working on proposed math legislation to raise the scores.

“When you’re 52nd in the country, you’ve got to make radical changes,” said Orr. “And some people say, ‘Well, there are only 50 states,’ but we were behind the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense schools. So you can’t get much lower than we are today.”

Orr’s includes hiring teachers to solely focus on math coaching as well as identifying students who need extra help early on to prepare them for success.

“Make sure that children are capable of fundamental math calculations before they leave elementary school and bringing all that attention, again, to the early grades is certainly important,” said Orr.

As Alabama faces a teacher shortage, state Superintendent Eric Mackey says they will address that issue.

“We feel like that there’ll be some teachers who are veteran teachers that’ll actually delay their retirement because they want to take one of these coaching positions,” said Mackey.

In a statement, Gov. Kay Ivey’s communications director, Gina Maiola, said Ivey “looks forward to working with the board and all stakeholders to place the same sense of urgency on mathematics as we have rightfully placed on literacy.”

According to Orr, if the legislation is passed, students wouldn’t be held back until 2028 at the earliest.

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