2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
California relies on its subject-matter testing requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
The state does not specify any coursework requirements regarding mathematics content, but it does require that all new elementary teachers pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET), a multiple subjects test. The test's standards address content in mathematics foundations, but although they outline such areas as algebra, geometry and data analysis, the standards are not specifically geared to meet the needs of elementary teachers.
The CSET's mathematics content is more rigorous than the Praxis II test most states use, but the CSET still does not ensure that candidates have appropriate mathematics knowledge. The CSET requires passing subscores on all three subtests that comprise the overall test, but the mathematics and science scores are combined, so one can likely answer many mathematics questions incorrectly and still pass the test.
http://www.cset.nesinc.com/CS_SMR_opener.asp "No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools," NCTQ, June 2008 http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/nctq_ttmath_fullreport.pdf
Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although California's subject-matter test requires some knowledge in key areas of mathematics, the state should require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers. This includes specific coursework in foundations, algebra and geometry, with some statistics.
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous mathematics assessment.
California should require a passing score specifically in math for its content assessments to ensure that teacher candidates have adequate mathematics knowledge and understanding of underlying mathematics concepts. Such a score could be used to allow candidates to test out of coursework requirements. Teacher candidates who lack minimum mathematics knowledge should not be eligible for licensure.
California recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. However, the state added that NCTQ's comment that "one can likely answer many mathematics questions incorrectly and still pass the test" is incorrect. It asserted that the scoring rubric is designed to prevent this very scenario.
It is important that California has designed its scoring rubric to ensure that candidates have knowledge in each area of its combined subtests. It would be even more helpful to candidates and preparation programs if the state established separate passing scores.