Some school districts aren't getting any better on test scores, and a few are backsliding after the first year of a state-funded elementary math program, feeding some legislators' fire to revamp state math standards.

The math improvement program for fourth- through sixth-graders doled out $7.5 million to 13 school districts with an eye on teacher training and incentive pay. In the first of three years, three school districts — Nebo, Duchesne and Emery — reported test scores are up in two grades, the State Office of Education reports. San Juan and Washington posted gains in one grade each. Carbon showed slight declines in all three grades. Slight ups and downs or minimal changes were reported in Granite, Jordan, Alpine, Juab and Salt Lake. No data was available for Ogden or a multi-district consortium of Box Elder, Davis and Weber districts and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

That can be expected after only one year of a strategy, which takes a couple years to grab hold, state education officials contend.

But Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is sponsoring a bill to create a task force of legislators, a governor's office representative and state and local school board members — appointed by legislators — to find ways to improve math standards and instruction. The Education Interim Committee on Wednesday gave its blessing to the concept, though not without dissent.

"I think we ought to look to math educators and science educators," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, "not politicians trying to fiddle around with the curriculum."


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