School Committee Talks Newport's Math Problem
Low test scores have prompted a special committee to tackle improving students' math proficiency.
The Newport School Committee on Tuesday discussed strategies to improve students' math proficiency. The discussion was part of the committee's meeting at the Newport Area Career and Technical Center.
Superintendent John Ambrogi said a committee would be established to assess the issue of low math scores throughout the district. He said the school department will also pilot a program where teachers who want to teach a certain subject will be able to do so all day.
“We will devise a situation where teachers who love to teach math can teach math all day long,” he said. “We will try to pilot that concept next year in the fifth grade.”
The system will allow students who pick up concepts quickly to go “as fast and as far as they need to," while students who need more time will be given the individualized attention they need.
“It would be such a change in the way people look at teaching math,” Ambrogi said.
If all goes well, the strategy will be put in place at each grade level.
Currently, elementary students have about one hour of math education a day. Ambrogi said it may be possible to meld together subjects like social studies and reading to increase math time in the classroom.
School committee member Charlie Shoemaker said it was important to start as soon as possible for students who continue to have trouble with math.
Ambrogi said he is also meeting with a technology specialist to review the possibility of each student at the new Pell School having his or her own iPad or mini-laptop.
The committee also celebrated the announcement of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Claiborne D. Pell Elementary School on March 16.
The blemish on the completion of the planning process came in the form of $22,970 in legal fees to defend the school department against various complaints regarding the school. The cost doesn’t include time spent by the committee and others in the school department preparing documents and defending the school, Ambrogi said.
“At least it’s behind us,” School Committee Chairman Patrick Kelley said. “That $23,000 should have been spent on education.”