The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
Kentucky relies on national accreditation standards for teacher preparation programs 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. However, although Kentucky does not require NCATE accreditation, the state bases its standards on national accreditation standards, including Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) standards, for approving its elementary programs. ACEI standards address content in mathematics foundations, but these standards lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver other mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates. For example, ACEI algebra standards state that teacher candidates should "know, understand and apply algebraic principles," but they make little mention of the actual knowledge that might contribute to such an understanding.
Kentucky 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 them to apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures.
Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although ACEI standards require some knowledge in key areas of mathematics, Kentucky 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.
Kentucky 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.
Kentucky recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.