Vt. lawmakers and educators tackle math - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers and educators tackle math

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Concerns over student achievement in math are making their way to Montpelier.

"There are students who graduate who do not take geometry," said Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor County.

And McCormack, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, says that's causing big problems.

"We hear from employers that people coming to them for jobs are deficient in math," McCormack said.

Standardized test scores from 2011 show 68 percent of Vermont's students in grades 3-8 are proficient in math, by grade 11 that percentage plummets to just 36 percent.

"I think we can take a good look at how we can increase, not just increase performance in math, increase attention to math," McCormack said.

Burlington School Superintendent Jeanne Collins agrees.

"Math goes all the way through the work that we need to do to transform our schools," she said.

Collins was part of a group pushing for ed reform at the Vt. Statehouse Friday. She says freedom from lawmakers to focus more on student success in math and less on simply the number of minutes a kid spends in a classroom will help.

"Where can legislators help with math as well, is making sure we have the time and flexibility to focus on math within our curriculum," Collins said.

She admits superintendents and teachers will need to adapt, as well.

"We're really missing the mark with math, in my opinion, in that in recent years we have focused a great deal on literacy in this state and not as much on math," Collins said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to require algebra and geometry for all the state's high school students. McCormack says that's on the table as his committee considers a number of ways to raise the bar, but he admits there could be challenges ahead.

"This committee has a long and unfortunate history of coming up with wonderful educational programs that then die in the money committees," McCormack said.

McCormack says he expects to review specific proposals from the governor and a list of priorities from the state's school boards and superintendents next week.

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