How American School Systems in Rural Areas Improve in Math

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many students in the US to fall behind in their math coursework. Many educators are looking for strategies to help children regain their normal math proficiency. A rural educational system in the southern state of Alabama saw success as a result of these efforts. It has significantly improved. Alabama children lead the country in continuing their math education during the epidemic, according to a report dubbed the Nation’s Report Card. And when test results from before and after the epidemic were compared, the state’s Piedmont City school system came out on top. According to studies, kids nationwide lagged behind in math by an average of half a year. There are roughly 1,100 kids in the Piedmont school system. In schools, seven out of ten kids receive free or reduced-price meals. The educational system has adhered to a pre-pandemic policy that it set forth: teachers utilize test results to identify areas in which students are having difficulty and then customize instruction for each student.

“We underwent a complete overhaul approximately five years prior,” stated Mike Hayes, the head of the educational system. “We made the decision to let data guide all of our decisions.” Years of study and data support targeted training for small groups of children, according to Rebecca Dreyfus of the nonprofit organization TNTP. The Piedmont school system extended the school day as part of the endeavor. This allowed for “data days,” where teachers got together to analyze the data, once every four weeks. Math teacher Cassie Holbrooks teaches fourth grade. She added the “data days” help teachers determine where the deficiencies are and target lessons. Lisa Hayes is a sixth-grade teacher who started working in the district five years ago. She expressed surprise at the amount of effort teachers put in over the data days. “You don’t sit in your room when we had a workday when I came here,” she said. You spend the bulk of the day looking through test results here in the media center.

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