The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
Iowa relies on its coursework requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
As of September 1, 2015, elementary education candidates will be required to earn at least nine semester hours in mathematics, which must include content in the following areas: numbers and operations, algebra/number patterns, geometry, measurement, and data analysis/probability. However, it does not appear that these requirements are specifically geared to meet the needs of the elementary teacher.
Iowa requires that all new elementary teachers pass a general subject-matter test, the Praxis II. This commercial test lacks a specific mathematics subscore, so one can likely fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test. Further, while this test 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.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-13.26(5) 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 Iowa now 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.
Iowa 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.
Iowa was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.