Capital West News
By Caleb Larkin
SALT LAKE CITY – The House Education Committee voted unanimously to give a favorable recommendation to a bill that would set new requirements for math competency in Utah schools.
SB196 establishes minimum career and college readiness mathematics competency levels for graduating high school students. The bill offers several options for students in high school to demonstrate competency in math. However, a student must fulfill one of the requirements in order to graduate.
Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, told the committee that the state has conducted a survey to gather information on remedial math courses in college in last decade. “Forty percent of students take these remedial math courses in colleges. We found that over 12,000 students take these courses each year at our colleges and universities in Utah.”
Millner hopes the bill will tie students career track with a compatible math pathway. “After financial issues, math is probably the second biggest reason that our students don’t stay in college and don’t complete college. This is an issue we need to address,” she said.
The Board of Education considered requiring a fourth year of math for high school students; however, Millner believes connecting math with a student’s college and career path would be more beneficial. “We already have many options in place: AP, IB, competency tests, and concurrent enrollment. Let’s make this a robust system to accomplish math competency,” Millner said.
Brad Smith, Superintendent of the Ogden City School District, supports measurable competency in all subjects. “This bill allows us to set competency standards that can be modulated for every student. Right now it’s only for math, but it’s the direction we want to take across the board in education.”
Still, members of the committee voiced concerns about the legislature dictating education requirements. “I’m concerned it could be a stumbling block and impede graduation,” said Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Salt Lake City.
Millner responded, “The worst case scenario is that students who didn’t plan on college will do exactly what every student has to do now, taking a math placement test which could place them in a remediate class.”
An attached fiscal note has resulted in the bill currently awaiting action by the House Rules Committee prior to a final vote by the full House.