Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
New Hampshire relies on both coursework requirements and its standards for teacher preparation programs as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
All teacher candidates in New Hampshire, including those for elementary schools, must complete an area of concentration (10 courses above the institution's introductory level) in a field such as mathematics. The state neither specifies the requisite content of these classes nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers.
New Hampshire has also articulated teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content. The state's standards appropriately address content in mathematics foundations, but although they mention such areas as algebra and geometry, the standards lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver this mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates.
Finally, New Hampshire 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.
Administrative Rules for Education 611.02 and 507.11 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 New Hampshire 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.
New Hampshire 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.
New Hampshire recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the new elementary education Praxis II test will have a subtest for mathematics. The Department of Education will bring this test forward to the State Board of Education after final review by ETS.
New Hampshire also noted that the Professional Standards Board has convened a subcommittee to develop certification standards for a new math specialist endorsement. This new professional endorsement will support statewide professional learning in both math content and pedagogy.
In a subsequent response, New Hampshire stated that the new Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects Praxis II test has been adopted by the State Board of Education. The test is available immediately and will be required beginning July 1, 2012.