Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Struggle in Math

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Struggle in Math

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Gov. Zell Miller wants to spend an extra $19.6

million next year on special programs to improve the reading

ability of youngsters, but a new report suggests many Georgia

elementary school students are falling deeper behind their

national counterparts in math.

A Georgia Council for School Performance report released

yesterday indicated four of 10 state elementary schools saw a

significant drop in comparative national math test results.

"We must be sure with our emphasis on reading we do not neglect

time spent on math," said Gary Henry, director of the council

and Georgia State University's Applied Research Center.

"The emphasis on reading is justified. But we shouldn't let the

emphasis on reading take away from the focus on math, science

and social studies."

The council's report of 61 trend indicators at Georgia's 1,149

elementary schools showed many key measurements are heading in

the right direction.

For instance, chronic absenteeism, defined as students missing

10 days or more a year of classwork, dropped from 27.7 percent

during the 1995-96 school year to 24.9 percent last year.

Teacher staff development time for curriculum, collaborative

efforts, technology training and instructional work increased.

School volunteer work by business and community groups increased

as well.

Parent-teacher conferences and verbal parent-teacher contacts

rose from 5.6 to 6.8 per student, council officials reported.

Henry said the council has seen a correlation between things

like increased school volunteerism and test scores.

"Business needs to play an active and vital role in K-12

education, and these reports indicate that the business

community is stepping up to this challenge," said Pat Willis,

chairwoman of the council and educational director for BellSouth

Corp.

However, test scores the council studied showed little

progress.

After making major gains in 1995-96, the reading scores for

third-graders on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills barely inched

upward last year, and the percentage of fifth-graders who scored

above the national median fell by 2. …

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