Alabama falls short in math & science

We hear it every time Alabama recruits a new industry.

The state must have a highly skilled competitive workforce. We've seen test scores improve through the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).{} But, we aren't there yet.

A just released report from an office of the education department puts eighth graders in Alabama, Mississippi and the District of Columbia below the international average for math and science.

The state department of education takes this report seriously. They are quick to point out that the schools in this study were part of a small sample and that none of those tested were AMSTI schools.

Dr. Lillian Hunsinger, curriculum director for the Jefferson County Board of Education knows improvements need to be made in math and science education.

"I think the state is looking at 'what can we do' that will improve students knowledge," says Hunsinger. She's confident AMSTI and its 'hands on' approach, will help close the gap. "(Students) are going to get stronger and stronger year after year (with AMSTI). Because they have more of an internalized mathematical understanding instead of just a 'rote memory'."AMSTI became part of the district's K-8 curriculum just this year. Obviously it's too soon to see long term results. A state department of education spokesperson told ABC 33/40 there was no surprise to the findings in the study.

He said the state volunteered to participate and knew there would be "weak-points" when it came to math and science. The study results will serve as a "baseline" to see where improvements need to be made. In Shelby County, Anthony Walker is a science teacher at Oak Mountain middle school. Walker suggests the way to improve math and science education starts with those teaching the subjects.

"We believe in 'doing' science and 'doing' math as well," says Walker. "The planning has to be there first, and being able to plan together and work together to come up with the best practices to use."