Elementary Teacher Preparation in
Mathematics: Connecticut

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics: Connecticut results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CT-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Mathematics-6

Analysis of Connecticut's policies

Connecticut does not articulate requirements to ensure that elementary teacher candidates have sufficient mathematics content knowledge.

Although the state does not have teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content, Connecticut does require 39 semester hours of general coursework, which includes mathematics.

Connecticut requires that all new elementary teachers pass a general subject-matter test, the Praxis II. This commercial test does not provide a specific mathematics subscore, so one can likely fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test. Further, while the Praxis II does cover important elementary school-level content, it barely evaluates candidates' knowledge beyond an elementary school level, does not challenge their understanding of underlying concepts and does not require candidates to apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures.

Citation

Recommendations for Connecticut

Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although Connecticut requires some knowledge 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.
Connecticut 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.

State response to our analysis

Connecticut recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that new legislation will require all elementary teacher candidates to pass a rigorous mathematics exam prior to certification. A stakeholders group will convene in fall 2011 to choose the appropriate exam and set the passing score. Connecticut expects that the new mathematics exam will become effective on July 1, 2012.

The state also noted that the proposed certification regulations include a requirement that new bachelor-level early childhood and elementary teacher candidates complete an interdisciplinary major, which includes nine credits in mathematics. Connecticut expects that these courses will be taught by arts and sciences professors.

Last word

NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.

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:
http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/nctq_ttmath_fullreport_20090603062928.pdf

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).