Elementary Teacher Preparation in
Mathematics: Massachusetts

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics: Massachusetts results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MA-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Mathematics-6

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Massachusetts relies on both coursework and standards for its general curriculum test as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.

Massachusetts specifies coursework requirements regarding the following mathematics content: numbers and operations, functions and algebra, geometry and measurement, and statistics and probability.

The state has also articulated elementary teaching standards that its new general curriculum test, with a separately scored mathematics subtest, must address; these standards also cover numbers and operations, functions and algebra, geometry and measurement, and statistics and probability. Sensibly, Massachusetts specifies that candidate learning in these topics must meet the needs of elementary teachers. The state also requires that "candidates shall demonstrate that they possess both fundamental computation skills and comprehensive, in-depth understanding of K-8 mathematics. They must demonstrate not only that they know how to do elementary mathematics, but that they understand and can explain to students, in multiple ways, why it makes sense."


Recommendations for Massachusetts

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

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).