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School systems eye new math standards

The Alabama Board of Education redid the math standards, getting rid of Common Core math, and local school system employees are working to understand the changes and work on implementation.

For more than a year, the Alabama Mathematics Course of Study (COS) Committee worked tirelessly to examine the existing math standards and make the changes necessary to provide Alabama students with math standards that are on par with, or superior to, other states. The Math COS Committee is comprised of veteran Alabama teachers, professors, administrators, business and industry leaders, and other stakeholders who thoroughly understand the minute details involved with the establishment of educational standards.

This committee bought to the table more than 300 years of collective teaching experience in Alabama classrooms, working directly with Alabama students from kindergarten to college-level.

“Over the past 22 months, a committee of esteemed education and business leaders have developed a revised Mathematics Course of Study that replaces, once and for

all, Common Core with Alabama-designed standards,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “These are Alabama standards created by Alabama teachers and will be a great starting point to ensuring our students will be proficient in each grade level. I am proud that the Alabama State Board of Education has taken this bold step to move our state forward. We have a ways to go, but today is a start in the right direction.”

Alabama State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey, said the finished product is a set of math standards that are clear, concise, and unequivocally sound.

“The new math standards are clear and precise. They identify exactly what each Alabama student should know and be able to do at the end of every course and grade,” Mackey said.

“The new standards look similar to those in states that are the highest performing in our nation. It is crucial that our students master the basics; adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing early.”

Locally, Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said that the new standards are a good merger of what they already have and the old way of doing math.

He said that the new standards shouldn’t require a lot of training for teachers.

“We are going to use this as a kick-off time if there are issues with regard to parents and the teaching of the standards, we are going to have something online that will identify what standard is being taught and someone available online to take the parent through the standard,” Watson said. “We are hoping it works out better than before. We are just going to keep plugging away.”

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said they are really encouraged to finally get a course of study passed.

“The state’s been behind getting it adopted,” he said. “That’s been a little bit of a hindrance especially having new tests, but an old course of study.”

Driver said that currently their curriculum department and school principals are studying the new course of study to see what it entails and how to best implement it.

“I’m not sure what that’s going to look like for us yet,” he said. “But we are encouraged by it. I know that there are a lot of good things that I have heard. It’s 160 pages long. There are some things that are similar and some things that are different.”

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said that the biggest changes will be in the secondary courses.

“There are some additional options for high school students with regard to sequencing courses and allowing more opportunities to participate in math courses that better fit their future plans,” he said. “I am excited that these are standards developed by Alabama educators, and I know it is was very painstaking and a great deal of work and research went into the development of the standards.”

Smithart said the real challenge comes with implementation.

“A standard is a concept,” he said. “It’s our job as educators to make sure we are implementing the course of study and teaching the standards insure our students are prepared for whatever their path of choice may be, whether college or career.”

Schools have the option of using the new math standards in the next school year, but mandatory implementation won’t be until the 2021-2022 school year.