Elementary teachers need math too

Elementary and special education teachers will have to pass a rigorous math test to be licensed in Massachusetts. Sandra Stotsky writes on Education Gadfly:

. . . the prospective teachers’ test will be based on the reasonable assumption that candidates who take it should be expected to demonstrate, without the use of a calculator, a deep understanding of the mathematics concepts that underpin what they will teach their students, who in turn must master them without the use of a calculator.

Elementary teachers notoriously are weak on math. In most states, teachers take licensure tests that are “pitched at the high school level in terms of overall difficulty, and their cut scores are set so low that a passing score often means no more than middle school achievement,” Stotsky writes.

Just in time, here’s a new blog called Math Concepts Explained which explains math concepts.

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Comments

  1. It’s about time. Liping Ma, in Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, identified this problem years ago–and now we have *one* state doing something about it?

    And if they can’t get enough prospective teachers to pass, will they just throw out the new standard?

  2. wayne martin says:

    > And if they can’t get enough prospective teachers
    > to pass, will they just throw out the new standard?

    Massachusetts has had some significant problems with teachers failing qualifications testing in the recent past:


    http://www.cnn.com/US/9807/11/teachers.test/index.html?eref=sitesearch

    Massachusetts gives teacher test again
    July 11, 1998
    Web posted at: 9:31 p.m. EDT (0131 GMT)
    From Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist

    BOSTON (CNN) — Massachusetts administered its controversial teacher-certification exams again on Saturday, after 60 percent of those who took the first round of tests in April failed.
    —-

  3. wayne martin says:

    The blog mentioned at the bottom of JJ’s posting has a couple of explanations for “functions” and “graphing”. His approach is simple enough:

    http://sk19math.blogspot.com/

    Anybody have access to a 6th or 7th grade math book? How do these books deal with introducing “functions”?

  4. Ragnarok says:

    Wayne,
    My son uses Saxon’s Algebra 1 (7th grade). The approach is quite similar to that in the blog (IMHO). Slightly more formal, more examples, but very close.
    Both explanations are very good, I think.

  5. How are they graduating college without knowing this?

  6. Myrtle, I don’t know. But I teach college (in the sciences) and am continually frustrated by students who don’t know the basics – who have never computed an average, who have never made a simple scatterplot graph, who don’t know what x and y correspond to on a graph.

    I would think that employers (and college profs) would stand up and say “Hell, no, we don’t want any more math-phobic and math-illiterate graduates!” But it never seems to happen.

    and so, I take time going over stuff (even fractions…) that I remember learning in the primary grades.

  7. wayne martin says:

    > But I teach college (in the sciences) and am continually
    > frustrated by students who don’t know the basics

    I very much appreciate it when working teachers post their experiences here. It’s one thing to download data, build data bases and come to conclusions about classroom performance, but it’s quite another to hear if from folks in the trenches.

  8. They’re just figuring this out now?

  9. ricki wrote:

    I would think that employers (and college profs) would stand up and say…

    Who’d listen? Why haven’t they listened? What is it that employers and college profs aren’t doing that would entice or force them to listen, whoever they are.