OREM — State education officials are seeking public input on proposed changes in the math core curriculum.

But one prominent lawmaker is unhappy with the suggested changes.

If the proposal is approved, high schoolers in Algebra II will learn about exponentials and logarithms — concepts currently taught in pre-calculus. The changes also call for students in Algebra I to spend more time on quadratic equations.

And in classrooms of practically all grades, there would be more emphasis on statistics, according to the proposed changes, which can be reviewed on the Utah State Office of Education's Web site: www.schools.utah.gov/curr/math/sec.

"Hard is relative," said Diana Suddreth, secondary education specialist for the State Office of Education. "I don't want to say it'll be harder. At some levels there will be more expectations."

But Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, who started the nearly 18-month process of revamping the math core, said the changes aren't enough. He will evaluate whether the state Legislature should intervene.

"I'm terribly disappointed that we still don't have world-class math standards," Stephenson said. "There's been too much politics involved between the mathematicians and the math instructors, and I think before they're published and put out for our public schools to use they ought to go back to the drawing table."

In February 2006, Stephenson tasked a committee with studying the state's math core to correct problems he saw with the Alpine School District's controversial program — Investigations in Number, Data and Space — which allows unconventional problem-solving methods to be used in deepening a student's understanding of math.

The committee, which included some of the nation's top mathematicians and math education professors, gave mixed reviews of Utah public school math, with some experts believing only a few changes were needed and others calling for a complete curriculum overhaul.

In November 2006, the Legislature's Public Education Interim Committee ordered creation of "world-class math standards," and a new committee went to work.

The mathematicians and math education professors on the committee were frequently at odds with each other over goals and developmentally appropriate methods for the Utah core.

"I think it's a good compromise," committee member and Brigham Young University mathematics professor David Wright said about the proposed changes. "It's real progress. It's not perfect. It's not as rigorous as I would like."

Despite the changes, in other ways the math core would remain the same under the proposal. It will remain aligned with the 2000 principles and standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Highland resident Oak Norton, who testified last year at the Legislature about Alpine School District's math program, believes world-class math standards are those taught in the nation of Singapore or even in California.

"I think they're not up to the California level," Norton said about the proposed changes. "I don't think they were the world-class standards we were promised."

The Utah State Board of Education will vote over the proposed changes in August — only weeks before school begins.

Suddreth said she is confident teachers would be up to speed by the beginning of the school year.


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