A Closer Look at Elementary Mathematics: Undergraduate Elementary Programs (UW-Madison Mentioned)


Why teacher prep programs should have strong preparation in elementary mathematics

Teaching elementary children the fundamentals of arithmetic—dividing fractions, operations with signed numbers, or basic probability—requires a deep understanding of the underlying mathematics. For elementary teachers, it’s simply not suf cient just to know “invert and multiply.” One must know and be able to explain why that works, building upon the more fundamental whole number operations. This requires specialized mathematics coursework speci cally for prospective elementary teachers. Typical college-level coursework (such as calculus) does not address these topics.
To earn an A in elementary mathematics, a program must dedicate suf cient time for at least 75 percent of topics identi ed by mathematicians as being critical for elementary teachers, and require at least one course in the methods of teaching mathematics to elementary-aged children.

For more information about analysis and program grades, see the Methodology in brief and Understanding program grades sections below.

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