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Northern Awarded $70,000 Grant

"The principal and her staff are to be congratulated for their initiative. We're all very pleased," he added.

Forty-one schools in the state were awarded grants. The program, in its second year, funded 45 grants last year.

"We're not doing so well in math in Kentucky at any level," said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

"We've targeted elementary schools in the first round of grants, but the eventual goal is to get to all of the schools that need help," she said.

Hunter said Northern's math scores on three rounds of standardized tests "weren't terrible," but still indicated that assistance was needed.

"We had a lot of children who were struggling," she said. "Our classroom teachers are terrific, but you know that when you have an at-risk student it's hard to give them everything they need."

The school will hire a new teacher - or perhaps two half-time teachers - to implement a program called Number Worlds, she said. The school's scheduling will determine whether it's one person or two.

"It's a wonderful program for small groups," she said of Number Worlds. "The intervention teacher will pull up to five children out of class at a time for 30 to 45 minutes of supplemental instruction. They'll still have their regular in-class math and have this as well."

The program will take the students "step by step," Hunter said, and the math teacher will also collaborate with the classroom teacher on the best techniques to help individual students.

Writing the grant was a joint effort between Hunter and her teachers.

"We had to write about our math program; what it was giving us and what it was lacking," she said. "We had to provide background about our children at risk, our test scores and what programs Northern was using."

If Northern shows progress in math by the end of the next school year it will receive another $60,000 to continue its program. After that, continued funding depends on the General Assembly.

In awarding the grants, the Department of Education was "looking for schools that in various measures aren't doing as well in math as in other areas," Gross said. "These are schools that have a project in place that they want to expand or who want to implement something.

"We've found that math is a statewide problem," she added. "It doesn't seem to matter if it is a rural school or an urban, poor school."

The focus on math, Gross said, is similar to what the state did with reading a few years ago.

"We focused our funding on teachers and processes in elementary schools. Now we're leaving everybody in the dirt when it comes to reading," she said. "At the fourth-grade level, on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) tests, we're really good now - outperforming the rest of the nation.

"But in math, we don't do so well. That's why the Legislature wanted to fund this and that's why teachers are excited about it," she said.

Gross said that after just a year, the math program is too new to provide measurable results.

"The kids haven't taken any test yet and a year is really not enough time anyway," she said.

"It'd be more likely to see im-provement in individual students, since the schools can target individual kids," she said. "Now, teachers are more likely to be seeing changes in their classrooms than we will overall."

Programs and professional support come from the Kentucky Center for Mathematics at Northern Kentucky Univer-sity. The center provides training, plus individuals who can work with the schools to ensure the programs they implement are appropriate.

Though she's happy today, Hunter said Northern isn't finished writing grant applications.

"I'm anxious for us to write a Read to Achieve application in the spring," she said.

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