The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
Louisiana relies on its coursework requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
The state requires that elementary teacher candidates complete 12 semester hours of mathematics. However, Louisiana specifies neither the requisite content of these courses nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers.
Louisiana 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.
Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 28, Bulletin 746, section 207 Louisiana Board of Regents Guidelines for Teacher Preparation Programs http://regents.louisiana.gov/ 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 Louisiana requires mathematics coursework, 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.
Louisiana 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.
Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.