Thursday, June 26, 2008

Report Finds US Elementary Teachers Not Well-Enough Prepared To Teach Math

From the report, issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality:

Our individual experiences with elementary teachers, corroborated by any number of national studies, reveal their limited background in mathematics. There must be a higher standard set for mathematics proficiency in education schools’ teacher preparation programs. The minimum first steps toward establishing that standard would be administering assessments that assure general mathematics proficiency as part of the candidate screening process for admission to teacher preparation programs and requiring high standards
in coursework containing elementary and some middle school level mathematics topics for program

We have no objections to prospective teachers taking mathematics courses designed for a general college audience, but we strongly recommend teacher candidates take a minimum of three mathematics courses designed specifically for prospective elementary teachers which deal explicitly with elementary and middle
school topics. This coursework should be coupled with one mathematics methods course. While we have no objection to an exemption from mathematics coursework for those able to pass a suitable examination, at present there is no such standardized examination that tests the required knowledge.

As a start, elementary teacher preparation programs might learn from, and assign, readings from Liping Ma's Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics.

Otherwise, we might get more teachers like this one.

1 comment:

Ellen K said...

Sadly, this doesn't surprise me. When I had to take a math exam to prove basic proficiency, several other candidates were actively cheating. It only involved the basic functions plus interest. But they were all coaches so they got hired. I can't tell you how many misspelled, grammatically poor notes I received from my children's teachers. The worst case was a drill team sponsor, supposedly a major in English, who would conduct meeting using extremely poor grammar. Another parent, who was a fifth grade language arts teacher used to keep score. If the teachers cannot function, how can we expect them to teach students how to function?