BYU Professors Overhaul Utah Math Education

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    By David Fellingham

    Two BYU professors are doing something about the low math test scores that have brought criticism to the Utah education system.

    About a year ago, Utah legislators were trying to think of a way to help solve this problem. The idea on Capitol Hill was to train teachers on the current system more, although many people felt that the current system was lacking.

    Dr. David Wright, of the BYU math department, felt more money should not be put into an already faltering system, but the system itself should be changed. Wright started a petition, signed by 145 college professors, to have Utah overhaul the state standards.

    With some help from some private citizens, Wright was able to convince the government to put together a committee to change the standards.

    Now, Wright and Dr. Blake Petersen of the math education department sit on the 16-person committee formed to change the standards. The committee has a May deadline to have the new standards ready to go for the new school year.

    “I agree that there could be some changes made,” said Sarah Beck, a math teacher at Provo high school, speaking of the current system and some of its faults. Some math teachers are frustrated because they have no time to slow down when kids do not grasp some concepts. due to the current system of standards What is the current system, and why does it cause this problem?.

    “There is no time to teach them [students] everything I have to,” said Beck. “I can”t take three days on the concepts they don”t understand.”

    Not all teachers are excited about the change. A math teacher at Lehi high, Leigh Lambert has been teaching for over 20 years and has seen many systems come and go.

    “I”m a little wary of new programs,” said Lambert.

    Petersen agrees there need to be some changes, but thinks things need to be slowed down.

    “I think that they [math standards] need to be changed, but I don”t see what the rush is,” said Petersen.

    Petersen thinks that a more ideal setting would be to take more time and ask teachers across the state for what they want.

    Although everyone has a different idea on what would be the best way to handle things would be, everyone can agree that they are happy to see change.

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