Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics

The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.

Best practices

Massachusetts is the only state that ensures that its elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of mathematics content. As part of its general curriculum test, the state utilizes a separately scored mathematics subtest that covers topics specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics National Results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Mathematics-6
Best practice 1


Meets goal 0


Nearly meets goal 1


Meets goal in part 5


Meets a small part of goal 30


Does not meet goal 14


Do states adequately assess elementary candidates’ mathematics knowledge?

Figure details

Yes. State requires a strong mathematics test. : MA

Partially. State does not require a separately scored mathematics test.: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

No. State does not require a mathematics test.: MT, NE

Research rationale

For evidence that new teachers are not appropriately prepared to teach mathematics, see NCTQ, No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools (2008) at:

For information on the mathematics content elementary teachers need to know, see National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, "Highly Qualified Teachers: A Position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics," (July 2005). See also Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, The Mathematical Education of Teachers, Issues in Mathematics, Vol. 11, (American Mathematical Society in cooperation with the Mathematical Association of America, 2001), p. 8.

For evidence on the benefits of math content knowledge on student achievement, see Kukla-Acevedo "Do Teacher Characteristics Matter? New Results on the Effects of Teacher Preparation on Student Achievement." Economics of Education Review, 28 (2009): 49-57; H. Hill, B. Rowan and D. Ball "Effects of Teachers' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching on Student Achievement," American Educational Research Journal (2005).

For information on where states set passing scores on elementary level content tests for teacher licensing across the U.S., see chart on p. 13 of NCTQ's "Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Removing the Roadblocks: How Federal Policy Can Cultivate Effective Teachers?" (2011).