Math can be hard enough, but imagine the difficulty when a teacher is just one chapter ahead of the students. It happens, and it happens more often to poor and minority students. Those children are about twice as likely to have math teachers who don’t know their subject, according to a report by the Education Trust, a children’s advocacy group.
Studies show the connection between teachers’ knowledge and student achievement is particularly strong in math.
“Individual teachers matter a tremendous amount in how much students learn,” said Ross Wiener, who oversees policy issues at the organization.
The report looked at teachers with neither an academic major nor certification in the subjects they teach.
Among the findings, which were based on Education Department data:
_In high-poverty schools, two in five math classes have teachers without a college major or certification in math.
_In schools with a greater share of African-American and Latino children, nearly one in three math classes is taught by such a teacher.
Math is important because it is considered a “gateway” course, one that leads to greater success in college and the workplace. Kids who finish Algebra II in high school are more likely to get bachelor’s degrees. And people with bachelor’s degrees earn substantially more than those with high school diplomas.