OREM — As just one of many facets to its transition from college to university, the Board of Trustees at Utah Valley State College decided Thursday to create a task force to improve math education.

The aim is to make sure students are prepared to take rigorous, college-level mathematics classes. School officials also want to focus on student advisement, placement and passing rates.

Graduation with successful math knowledge will continue to be the end result.

"We need to be able to compete in the world and have our young people be prepared," said Janette Beckham, chairwoman of the trustee board.

This fall about 3,200 UVSC students enrolled in developmental mathematics — a remedial class. UVSC's total enrollment was around 25,000, said K.D. Taylor, associate dean of the school of general academics at UVSC.

Taylor said such a high number of remedial math students is typical for an open-enrollment university.

UVSC students who score 19 or lower on the ACT must take a class-placement test and enroll in developmental math classes. These remedial classes prepare

the students for college math, which will meet their requirements for graduation.

Many students, however, put off their math classes.

"They're afraid of math," said Carolyn Hamilton, chairwoman of UVSC's math department.

Students show up at the math department and say they are graduating the next semester and they haven't fulfilled their math requirements.

And many of those students test at a seventh-grade math level, Hamilton said.

"They have four years behind them and four semesters of math ahead of them because they have to go through that remedial," she said.

Ensuring students learn the math basics before graduating high school also is a concern, said Carolyn Merrill, UVSC trustee and principal of American Fork High School.

High school students need to be ready for college math. But if they aren't prepared, it's up to the university to help them not only catch up but do well, she said.

"There is concern for all levels of education," Merrill said.

Another issue is that sometimes high school students get their math requirements out of the way early. They could go two years of high school doing no math — and forgetting concepts — before they enter college. Plus, many students take a year or more off after high school before entering college.

UVSC President William A. Sederburg said he appreciates the State Board of Education's recent decision to boost Utah's graduation requirements for math.

"That greatly improves their chances of doing well," Sederburg said.


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