U.S. mathematics teachers, getting lost in the middle

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In a major new international study examining the quality of teacher training in mathematics, we learn that our future middle school teachers are apparently quite average.

Singapore and Taiwan best our future middle school teachers quite easily--natch--but our teachers did manage to beat teachers from Chile, Botswana, the Philippines and even Norway, usually a high performer.

Researchers William Schmidt et. al. theorize that the weak preparation of future U.S. math teachers could be a result of the dearth of prerequisite math knowledge required for getting into an education school. Blame it on a generally lame American K-12 math curriculum, a weaker pool of students who enter U.S. education schools or on low admission standards. Regardless, U.S. future teachers are starting their programs strides behind the more serious competition.

Schmidt et. al. suggest that aside from recruiting those with stronger math knowledge into the teaching profession and using a more demanding curriculum, a feasible fix would be for states to make certification requirements more stringent, beginning with getting rid of K-8 certification, which our State Teacher Policy Yearbook shows 21 states still allow.