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.
Colorado relies on both coursework requirements and its standards for teacher preparation programs as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teachers.
All teacher candidates in Colorado must complete coursework in mathematics. The state does not specify a minimum number of credit hours, the requisite content of such courses or that the courses must meet the needs of elementary teachers. Colorado has articulated elementary teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use. These standards indicate that all elementary teacher candidates must be "knowledgeable" in mathematics but lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates.
Colorado requires that all new elementary teachers pass either the state's PLACE (Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado's Educators) assessment or a general subject-matter test, the Praxis II. Neither test provides a specific mathematics subscore, so one can likely fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test. Further, while these tests cover important elementary school-level content, they barely evaluate candidates' knowledge beyond an elementary school level, do not challenge their understanding of underlying concepts and do not require candidates to apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures.
Commission on Higher Education, Part P, Section I, 3.03 1 CCR 301-37; 2260.5-R-5.00, 5.04 www.ets.org/praxis "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 Colorado requires some knowledge in 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.
Colorado should assess mathematics content with a rigorous assessment tool, such as the test required in Massachusetts, that evaluates mathematics knowledge beyond an elementary school level and challenges candidates' understanding of underlying mathematics concepts. Such a test could also be used to allow candidates to test out of coursework requirements. Teacher candidates who lack minimum mathematics knowledge should not be eligible for licensure.
Colorado recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted that it has adopted the Common Core Standards, and teacher preparation programs are in the process of aligning their programs with these standards.