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The Long And Short Of It: LUHS Board Told Additional Math Teacher Needed

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MINOCQUA – A pair of teachers made a pitch Monday to the Lakeland school board for an additional math teacher so more individualized help could be given to students struggling with understanding math. “"We need more resources for our kids to be successful in math.,” said math department head Jack Jarvensivu at Monday’s board meeting. Supporting the request for a “math interventionist” position was Rae Grosman, alternative education coordinator. Jarvensivu said upper level students and “mainstream” level students are doing well in the required math classes, but more help is sorely needed for those struggling with math. “We are barely staying above water right now,” he said of those students.

Jarvensivu said the department at one time had seven math instructors, but their numbers were cut back by at least one position some time ago. In addition, the state since 2013 has required high school graduates to have three math credits, one more than before. Most colleges in Wisconsin and Minnesota require Algebra 1, geometry, and Advanced Algebra. Most colleges recommend four years of mathematics for admission. The school has math labs for added help, but student numbers there “are huge,” he said, with upwards of 30 students at times. Grosman said a teacher in the math lab for only 45 minutes has a hard time reaching every student needing individualized instruction. The math interventionist would teach one or two math sections and help out in the math labs, as well as students taking credit “recovery” for graduation, Jarvensivu said.

Interim district administrator Rob Way said hiring the math interventionist would help close the “achievement gap” at the school. Achievement gap is described as the difference in test scores for mainstream students and those from other racial, ethnic and low-income backgrounds. No cost figures were given for the position, nor did the board act on the request as it was for informational purposes only. Administration will come back with a recommendation and additional information at a future meeting.

Despite the need for another math teacher, Jarvensivu said Lakeland has seen measureable gains in math understanding by its students. “Our ACT scores in math have gradually increased so we are above the state average now,” he said. The school’s more rigorous math curriculum now meets state standards. “Currently, every student in our building takes at least three years (of math), and a lot more take four,” he said. “All those changes have resulted in academic gains for our upper level students and our mainstream students. “Our AP (advanced placement) calculus classes are second to none,” he said of the college-level course.

The school’s math team “wins almost every year” in the annual competition sponsored by the 55-member Central Wisconsin Mathematics League.

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