American students’ chronically poor performance in mathematics on international tests may begin in the earliest grades, handicapped by the weak knowledge of mathematics of their own elementary teachers. NCTQ looks at the quality of preparation provided by a representative sampling of institutions in nearly every state. We also provide a test developed by leading mathematicians which assesses for the knowledge that elementary teachers should acquire during their preparation. Imagine the implications of an elementary teaching force being able to pass this test.
Most of the nation’s undergraduate education programs do not adequately prepare elementary teachers to teach mathematics, according to a study released Thursday by an education-reform advocacy group. Utah State University is among the 83 percent of surveyed programs that didn’t meet what the National Council on Teacher Quality calls an emerging “consensus” on what elementary teachers must learn before joining professional ranks.
“There’s a long-standing belief in our country that elementary teachers don’t really need to get much math. The only thing you need to teach second-grade math is to learn third-grade math,” said Kate Walsh, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group. “We haven’t put much attention to fact the elementary teachers are the first math teachers kids get. Their foundational skills have long-term ramifications whether that child will be able to do middle and high school math.”
The NCTQ’s findings are similar to a reading report the group released two years ago, claiming that 85 percent of undergraduate elementary education programs fail to adequately prepare students to teach reading.