The mathematics curriculum in Utah's public schools will be compared with three other states' as part of a review ordered by Utah lawmakers.

The Mathematics Core Curriculum Review Committee, formed shortly after the 2006 legislative session ended in March, decided Friday to compare Utah's way of teaching math with how schools teach math in California.

Two other states' mathematics curricula also will be selected as comparisons. Those states have yet to be decided.

The question of how Utah's math curriculum compares to other states' is on a list of questions the committee will send to a "third-party" education group that will be hired to judge the strengths and weaknesses of Utah's math curriculum.

Top state education chiefs are still discussing which group to hire.

"We hope to have (the review) done in the next six months," said Brett Moulding, curriculum director for the State Office of Education.

In February, a legislative education committee discussed math standards, and some cried for reform, saying Utah's math classes should be more rigorous.

Perhaps the most rancorous debate over math education has been seen in the Alpine School District, where many parents have complained about the math programs — Investigations of Data and Space and Connected Math.

Those math programs encourage students to discover solutions to math problems through traditional and creative methods.

Critics say it downplays traditional algorithms and computation.

"Investigations" math was formerly used in California schools — but has been prohibited in favor of more traditional math programs.

So far, however, the committee has not mentioned any math program by name. It has only talked about the state's curriculum.

Members of the committee are mostly university professors of math and math education. Representatives from Salt Lake City and Washington school districts also are members of the committee. They were chosen because they represent rural and urban schools, and because those districts have full-time curriculum employees.

Most school districts have teachers who review curriculum part time.

No members of the committee are from Alpine School District.

"I know why they're meeting — because of the (Legislature's) request," said Alpine District spokeswoman Jerrilyn Mortensen.

"You asking me if we're targeted? I don't know that. I don't know if they are looking at math because there's an outcry" to make math harder.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com