Tuesday, December 06, 2016 - Updated: 2:52 PM
By Rachel Keller
Sharpe Elementary announced last week it was awarded the Mathematics Achievement Fund grant beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. Principal Jackie Reid said the school will receive $50,000 for the first year and if the school continues to meet requirements and grant expectations, it could qualify for another three years afterward, totaling in $200,000 from the Dept. of Education for improving math skills.
“We are super excited,” Reid said. “We are going to use this grant to hire a full time, highly qualified math interventionist and this person will be trained in research-based math strategies. They will be going to trainings this summer and it’s a focus on kindergarten through 3rd grade. We really want to hit early intervention because we know if we can get that solid foundation, it’s going to pay off as they get older.”
Reid said the school was able to choose from five programs for the interventionist to train with that are research-based with intensive training and Add+VantageMR was chosen for Sharpe because it’s compatible with the district’s model in the schools. She said the interventionist will begin training this summer and throughout the school year will continue training and attending math conferences to make sure he/she is up to date on all strategies and keeps in touch with mentors in the program.
In addition, she said, the grant requires two teachers also receive training each year (two different teachers will be selected for each of the four years) that’s similar to what the interventionist will receive, but their training will be modeled during co-teaching and utilized by all students. She said the interventionist will work with a specific group of kids as well as work with the parents of those students, teaching them how to help from home.
“Math can always be a difficult issue for kids,” Reid said. “Especially in kindergarten we’re asking ourselves if they’re developmentally ready for what our standards are asking them to do; is it challenging enough or too challenging and we ask ourselves those questions all the time. When we look at our KPREP data, which is for 3rd-5th grade, one of our areas that needs growth for Sharpe is our math. If it’s 3rd, 4th and 5th that are not able to apply some of these foundational skills then they’re not truly understanding them K-3. We know that in K-3 they’re getting some of these foundational skills but as they get older they’re not able to apply them and that’s kind of showing in some of our data. We need to be able to get some kind of intervention and some kind of skills to the kids in K-3 to get them to be able to learn it at a deeper level.”
Reid said she’s extremely appreciative of the school district for supporting Sharpe in its endeavor to seek the grant. She said while $50,000 is “a great amount to receive from the state,” the district is going to have to contribute some in-kind funds.
“When the teachers go to the conferences and things like that we’re going to have to pay for those things. The district has been very generous to agree to pay for those things,” she said. “I know that there were some districts in this area that wouldn’t let their schools apply because they knew there was going to be additional funds that they were going to have to put up for it but our district was really good about that.”