Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
North Carolina relies on its 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, North Carolina has outlined a broad set of standards that require teacher preparation programs to prepare elementary teacher candidates to teach to the state's elementary student curriculum.
Further, North Carolina does not require content tests for initial licensure; such tests are only mandated once candidates apply for the standard professional 2 license, usually after three years. At that point, North Carolina 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 may 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.
Board of Education Policy Manual, TCP-A-003 http://sbepolicy.dpi.state.nc.us/ Teacher Certification http://www.ncpublicschools.org/licensure/steps/ http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/profdev/standards/teachingstandards.pdf 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.
North Carolina 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, as a condition of initial licensure.
North Carolina 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.
North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted that it has recently added a math education add-on license for elementary teacher candidates. Science and reading add-on licenses are currently being piloted.