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Education officials want more math requirements for Utah students

Education officials want more math requirements for Utah students

By Mary Richards | Posted - Sep. 29, 2010 at 1:27 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah educators will debate this week whether high school seniors should be required to take a math class, but college officials want to take it one step further.

The math class question is on the agenda for the state board of education meeting on Friday.

"We know that a three-year program of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II is a predictor of success in college, especially if they take Algebra II that senior year," says Sydnee Dickson, director of educator quality and licensing at the Utah Department of Education.

Dickson says this is part of a yearlong approach to upgrading mathematics instruction for students so they will be college and career-ready.

College officials are completely on board and even want to take it another step.

"We are pushing, and we are working with the department of education, to require a rigorous fourth year of math," says William Sederburg, Utah's commissioner of higher education. "And we are also pushing our campuses to really get the students to take math early on in their freshman year of college."

Sederburg says 20 percent of college students need remedial math because they didn't do enough in high school; others need a remedial course because they delay taking a math class in college. He says it could be years between math classes for some students.

"Math is an academic area that is sequential and built upon. It's also the type of building that can be forgotten about fairly easily," Sederburg says.

Meanwhile, Dickson says by requiring a math class during the senior year of high school a student is more likely to take four years of math.

"We are really pleased with the Department of Education and their adopting common core standards that we think will be a more rigorous set of math requirements," Sederburg says. "We just need to build upon those to get the math requirements in college completed."

Dickson says the K-12 officials have been working with the higher education commission on this topic.

"We have been working with a broad base of people on this issue, who are very passionate about making sure students get a quality education," Dickson says.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

Mary Richards

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