Teacher Prep Review: Preparation in Elementary Mathematics

May 2022

Download report
Teacher Prep Review: Preparation in Elementary Mathematics

Improving instruction in elementary mathematics is critical to supporting better academic and life outcomes for our students. While weak elementary math instruction is not a new challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have exacerbated the issue. Many states have reported that students have lost more learning in math than in reading over the past two years, and pre-existing gaps in math achievement between low-poverty and high-poverty schools and between majority-White and majority-Black schools have worsened since 2020.

In a new NCTQ report, Teacher Prep Review: Preparation for Teaching Elementary Mathematics, we examine over 1,100 teacher preparation programs to determine how much time programs dedicate to mathematics as well as how that time is spent. The NCTQ analysis evaluates programs for their coverage of both the key mathematics content that elementary teachers need as well as how to teach those concepts.

The NCTQ data shows that undergraduate programs now require an average of 19% more time for elementary math coursework than they did in 2014, a sizable increase. However, in spite of allocating more time to overall math preparation, many programs do not make optimal use of this instructional time, failing to ensure that required courses cover the math content knowledge essential for fully preparing new elementary teachers.

View all publications