CEDAR HILLS — Students at Cedar Ridge Elementary School can get an incorrect answer on a math problem but still not get the problem totally wrong.

"It is very important they get the right answer," Principal Steve Cherrington said. "It is not our belief (it's) as important to get the right answer than to get the process."

Cherrington and two of his teachers spoke with about 30 parents about their concerns about the math curriculum Wednesday night.

The math program — "Investigations of Space and Data" — has been controversial in the Alpine School District since it was introduced in schools in fall 2001.

Discussion over the math program reached Capitol Hill last week, when senators charged the Education Interim Committee to study math standards, including Alpine's "investigations math" program, after the 2006 legislative session.

Investigations math and its sister program for Alpine middle schools, "Connected Math," encourage creative problem-solving over traditional algorithms. Cedar Ridge's principal and teachers said the difference is that students understand the concepts better than if they just memorized multiplication tables.

Parents at the meeting, however, did not have as much confidence in the math program.

"Maybe that works with a lot of different things but with math . . . there's either a right or wrong (answer)," parent Matt Badger said.

The homework may seem puzzling to parents, but teachers send home letters to families explaining the concepts and vocabulary words. For instance, addition may be called "connecting," second-grade teacher Shawna Wagaman said.

"When there's more English involved in math, there's a problem," parent Charelle Bowman said.

Cammi Garner is concerned about how Cedar Ridge students compare in math with other students nationally. But she does not believe the program is a failure.

"It does work and it's not what we're used to and we can't be reactive out of fear," she said.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com