Saturday, December 20, 2008

Useless New Math Credential

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has been considering the revival of a Mathematics Specialist Credential:

Mathematics Specialist Credential Advisory Panel
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is currently seeking applications from individuals [MS Word] to serve as panel members to consider the need for, and, as appropriate, propose recommended standards for a preparation program for the Mathematics Specialist Credential. Applications are due by February 6, 2009.

The idea is that a person holding this teaching credential could conduct staff development in mathematics (probably for elementary or middle school teachers) and could also work with students currently struggling with math.

The way I see it, that's no different from what I'm capable of doing now. Why do we need this new credential?

In Commission discussions, this credential is compared to the Reading Specialist Credential. This comparison is flawed. Reading is a skill--like riding a bicycle, once learned, reading is pretty much learned. What have you learned new about reading in the past couple of decades? Like me, probably nothing. A person holding a Reading Specialist Credential is theoretically a master at helping students acquire a particular skill, reading.

But math isn't a skill, it's a body of knowledge. In fact, I'd go a step further; because it's not a skill, it doesn't make sense to say "I'm not good at math." Rather, it's more accurate to say that "I haven't learned basic math well (yet)." You can learn more every day for the rest of your life and not exhaust that well of knowledge.

This new credential may give us another hoop to jump through if someone thinks we need another hoop, and it might create an artificial barrier to "career progression" by becoming a useless requirement for certain positions, but it's not a credential with any real meaning. It's a waste of time for the CTC to consider this credential.


KauaiMark said...

"...Why do we need this new credential?"


Darren said...

Maybe *some* overachiever will decide that they cannot live without this credential, but that overachiever will *not* be me.