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BOE approves math initiative
Consulting firm to be hired
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The Board of Education has unanimously approved hiring Insight Education Group to provide a combination of in-person and online coaching for 10 Newton County School System Algebra I teachers.

The estimated cost of the professional learning program would be $95,950. Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said it will be paid for with Title IIA federal funds, not out of the school system’s general budget.

BOE member Jeff Meadors, who made the motion to approve hiring the firm, noted that the Title IIA federal funds would have to be used by Sept. 30, as they don’t carry over.

Richard Nyankori, executive vice president of Insight Education Group, previously told the BOE at its Sept. 10 work session that 10 teachers would receive two hours of in-person coaching per month and six one-hour virtual coaching sessions during a six-month period from Oct. 1 through April 30, 2014.

Nyankori said the coaching sessions will provide real-time feedback to teachers, and follow up on ideas and strategies discussed during the coaching sessions to help improve math instruction. Low math scores on recent End-of-Course-Tests (EOCTs) prompted the school system to hire the consulting firm, officials have said.

Shannon Buff, NCSS director of secondary curriculum, instruction and professional development, said Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, which included a new mathematics curriculum, were introduced last fall.

Spring 2013 was the first time students took the Coordinate Algebra EOCT test, replacing the Math I portion of the tests. In Coordinate Algebra, EOCT scores were extremely low for the state and the district, NCSS officials reported in July.

Coordinate Algebra, taken by ninth-graders, had a 19.4 percent pass rate in the school system, compared with the state pass rate of 37 percent. All three Newton high schools scored below the state score on the Coordinate Algebra test.

Insight Education Group has expertise in helping minority and low-income students achieve at the same levels as their peers. The educational consulting firm has worked with Baltimore City Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, the Tennessee Department of Education, and several other school districts around the country.

Nyankori said part of what makes Insight’s program successful is that its staff consists of educators who have taught the curriculum.