Elementary Teacher Preparation in
Mathematics: Florida

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics: Florida results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/FL-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Mathematics-6

Analysis of Florida's policies

Florida relies on both coursework and subject-matter testing requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.

The state requires preparation programs to instruct teacher candidates in all competencies, including mathematics, that are tested on the state's subject-area examination, the Florida Teacher Certification Examination. The test's standards appropriately address content in mathematics foundations, but although the standards outline areas such as algebra, geometry and data analysis, the standards are not specifically geared to meet the needs of the elementary teacher.

The mathematics content of Florida's general subject-matter test appears more rigorous than the Praxis II, which is used by most states. However, the state's test still does not ensure that candidates have appropriate mathematics knowledge. While all new elementary teachers must pass this test, it lacks a specific mathematics passing score, so one may fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test.


Recommendations for Florida

Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although Florida 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.
Florida should ensure that its math assessment evaluates candidates' knowledge beyond an elementary school level, challenges their understanding of underlying concepts and requires candidates to apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures.  The state should also require a passing score specifically in math for its content assessments to ensure that teacher candidates have adequate mathematics knowledge. 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.

State response to our analysis

Florida recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is currently working on revisions that would require a passing score on the mathematics section of the elementary education K-6 subject-area examination. In addition, preparation programs are currently realigning and redesigning their programs to the mathematics Common Core Standards. 

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).