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The Alpine School District has vowed to take steps to re-emphasize its math curriculum, after student scores on the math portion of the American College Testing exam declined for the fourth consecutive year.

And board members were particularly concerned to learn that female students in the district scored on average more than two points below male students. Males scored 18.9, while females scored 16.0.Dr. Frank Cameron, director of research and evaluation, said the difference in scores was probably because male students take more math classes than female students, and are thus better prepared for the exam.

Board member Jan Lewis asked district officials to investigate the causes of the low math scores for female students, and to emphasize the importance of the math curriculum.

"We have to realize that even with the decline our math scores are still above state and national averages (except for female students)," said Gary Keetch, administrator over secondary schools. "But this four-year trend is an indication that we need to emphasize to our students the importance of the math and science curriculum."

And, ironically, the Alpine School District is doing very well in Advanced Placement scores. Participation in the Advanced Placement program continues to exceed state and national rates.

Cameron said this year 55 percent of seniors in the district took advanced placement exams, compared with 39 percent for Utah as a whole; the number of seniors taking exams has increased 25 percent since 1983.

The advanced placement program provides a means for academically gifted students to demonstrate their skills in a wide variety of subjects, and to earn college credit while they are still in high school.

"In 1989, the number of AP exams written by Alpine students for each 100,000 of general population was 108 percent of the Utah rate, and 358 percent of the U.S. rate for this past year," Cameron said. "What is even more remarkable is that even with this surge in growth, our success ratio on the exams has also continued to rise."

Cameron said that in 1983, when 25 percent of seniors took exams, 16 percent successfully passed one or more exams. Now, with 55 percent taking the tests, the success ratio has risen to 37 percent.

But to solve the deficiency in ACT math scores, Keetch said the district is studying the possibility of offering review classes in math for students who have taken advanced math as freshmen or sophomores. And, the district is looking into holding a math and science conference for women to emphasize the need for math skills, Keetch said.

The district's overall ACT composite score, while higher than the state or national average, has also declined since 1986 when it reached a high of 20.1. The American College Testing program examines students in four major academic areas: English usage, mathematics, social-studies reading, and natural-science reading. Composite scores represent the average scores from the four test areas. Students taking the exam are generally college-bound 11th- or 12th- graders. During the past year, 1,355 Alpine students - 66 percent of the senior class - took the exam.


(Additional information)

Composite scores of Alpine students

1985: 19.8

1986: 20.1

1987: 19.8

1988: 20.0

1989: 19.6