During the COVID pandemic, while most schools in the country were struggling with math, Piedmont City schools in rural Alabama excelled. They ranked first in math scores nationwide in a comparison between 2019 and 2022. The district, which serves mostly low-income students, attributed their success to a focus on data-driven decision making and increasing instructional time for math teachers. By giving teachers more time to analyze student data and target specific skills, they were able to improve instruction. The district also implemented regular “data days” where teachers come together to examine student data and make instructional adjustments. This approach of using data effectively has been proven to improve instruction for students. Additionally, Piedmont City schools implemented targeted small group instruction, where teachers work directly with a small number of students to address specific skills. This approach is supported by research and has been effective in reading instruction. Although there is less research on the use of targeted small group instruction in math, it has been successfully applied in Piedmont City schools. Teachers are able to use student data to identify weaknesses and tailor instruction accordingly. Overall, Piedmont City schools’ success demonstrates the importance of data-driven decision making and targeted instruction in improving math skills.
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