Remedial Math Students Increased

Posted: August 25, 1988

The percentage of third, fifth and eighth graders in the Abington School District who needed remedial education in mathematics was higher last year than in the previous year, according to results of the state's basic-skills test.

Reading in all three grades improved, as the percentage of Abington students who needed remedial help in that area was down.

Although the percentage of third graders who needed remedial help in math increased only slightly, the amount of fifth graders who needed remedial education almost doubled from 8.6 percent in 1986-87 to 15.6 percent last year, according to the results of the Test of Essential Learning Skills (TELS).

The percentage of eighth graders who needed remedial help in math rose from 11.3 to 16.3 during the same period.

TELS, given in March, is designed to identify those who need remedial help in math and reading. The state Department of Education began the testing in the 1984-85 school year.

Abington's percentage of remedial students was below the statewide averages in both areas, according to school officials.

Among third graders, the state average for remedial reading was 23.4 percent, as opposed to 12.3 percent for the district. Among fifth graders, the state average was 23.8 percent compared with the district's 16.4 percent. Among eighth graders, the state average was 18.9 percent compared with the district's 11.4 percent.

In math, the state average for third graders was 14 percent, compared with 6 percent in the district. For fifth graders, the state average was 16.6 percent, and for eight-graders, 21.5 percent.

Donald Puglisi, director of pupil services for the district, said the increase in students who needed remedial help in math resulted from the transfer to the district of students who lacked these skills and who sought to participate in Abington's special-education programs.

He also said more students were being identified as needing help through improved testing.

To address the problem, Puglisi said, the district would require remedial students to attend more help sessions beginning this fall. The district also would begin training teachers more ways to instruct remedial students, he said.

In other action, the board agreed to allow the school superintendent to change the number of class sections in several elementary schools without prior approval from the board.

Assistant superintendent James McCaffery told the board that some class sizes were expected to exceed projections.

Because the board's next meeting is 10 days after the school year begins, McCaffery said the superintendent's office should have the authority to start more class sections without approval by the board.

McCaffery said the possible changes included adding a first-grade section at McKinley School in Elkins Park, a first-grade section at Rydal School in Huntingdon Valley and half a kindergarten section at Overbrook School in Abington.

The district is considering dropping a sixth-grade class at Willow Hill if the number of pupils is 55 or fewer, McCaffery said. The school board would approve the action next month.

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