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STRONG — Strong-Huttig School Board members showed concern over student math scores during a school board meeting Monday night.

Teachers have been using data from the ACT Aspire interim testing to improve skills in English, reading, math and science before the summative test that grades 3-10 will take later in the school year. The interim tests get harder each time, high school improvement specialist Shirley Kyle said.

“One of the things that we’re going to do is … identify the kids that are low and go ahead and get them in either the afterschool program that (Dr. Wendell Colen)’s got or have seventh period where we’re working with students,” Kyle said. “We’ve had some kids from the high school going to the afterschool tutoring, but we’re going to see if can make it almost mandatory that they get some type of tutoring.”

Board vice-president Frederick Baker said that tutoring during seventh period classes would be better. He also expressed concern about math scores.

“Statewide, math scores are low … There is a missing link,” elementary improvement specialist Becky Bolding said.

Baker said that students should be taught “simple math” facts and multiplication tables.

While neither of these are especially emphasized in the Arkansas Math Standards, which principal Wendell Colen called “technologically dependent,” addition and subtraction are introduced in kindergarten. Multiplication and division are introduced in third grade, according to the K-5 standards.

“That’s why we’re in the shape we’re in,” district superintendent Jeff Alphin said. “On a brighter note, the News-Times is going to have a list of the people who won at the Union County Math Competition Saturday. One of ours did, won second place in eighth grade math.”

Gardner Strong Elementary teachers are sitting down with students individually to show them where they can improve. Integrating math facts into five-minute “bell ringers” would be the school’s way to get that into daily instruction, Bolding said.

“Even if you go class by class, that may be time consuming, but it may work out for the long term,” board president Cindy Smith said. “Maybe we can see classes are excelling in whether they know their math facts or whether they don’t. We’ve got to come up with a plan.”

The school board approved the Strong Church of Christ’s use of the high school cafeteria on Feb. 18, a student transfer to Parkers Chapel and an one-year extension of Alphin’s employment contract.

The Strong-Huttig School Board’s next meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Strong High School library.

Brittany Williams may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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