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Math understanding improving this year, Hempfield principals say

Megan Tomasic
742667HempfieldAreaHighSchool
Hempfield Area High School

As part of their yearly goals, Hempfield Area principals identified numeracy understanding as a top priority — something teachers and principals say is improving.

Working on different levels — high school, middle school and elementary school — principals have created curriculum that will help students improve their skills and to create a relationship and understanding among parents as to how and why certain math skills are taught.

“One of our big concerns is the area of numeracy because we have some very grave concerns about the readiness of our students that are coming to us for Algebra I,” Kathy Charlton, high school principal, said during Monday’s school board meeting.

A computer-based program is helping teachers identify where individual students need help within the Algebra I curriculum. From there, students work with teachers in a bi-weekly lab in addition to their daily math class.

“We have kids that tested in the My Path program as low as third grade in skills,” Charlton said. “We have kids that can’t multiply, they can’t divide, they can’t function with fractions.”

The program has helped students so far, Charlton said. At the end of the year, students will retake the My Path test so officials can determine how much progress was made.

Improving numeracy literacy within the school district is boiling down to the elementary level, where teachers are working with parents so they understand how and why things are being taught.

Elementary school principals at the meeting showed progress in a third grade classroom from fall to winter. Four students improved from urgent intervention, one student improved from intervention and three students moved to at or above benchmark, according to statistics.

But, more than 20 students still are projected to score at or below average on the upcoming Pennsylvania System of School Assessment results, or PSSA’s. Principals are working with PSSA officials to improve that number in the future.

The elementary schools also are putting a big focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, or STEM, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math program, or STEAM.

At Hempfield Area middle schools, teachers and principals are teaching illustrative math – a program that teaches students how to apply math in real-life situations.

“It’s making sure kids know how to apply the skills and it also is providing our teachers with the knowledge of how to ask the right questions instead of giving the students the information,” said Wendover Middle School Principal Deanna Mikesic.

Hempfield Area School District principals also identified literacy and creating college and career citizens as goals for the year. Progress will again be assessed at the end of the year.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter @MeganTomasic.