Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Mathematics Content Test Requirements: New Jersey requires all teacher candidates to pass the Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects (5001) test, which includes a separately scored math subtest. However, the state allows an exemption to candidates who have failed to meet the passing score by five percent if they have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Mathematics Preparation: New Jersey does not have articulated teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content such as; mathematics foundations and areas such as algebra, geometry and statistics. The state relies on 2018 Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) K-6 Elementary Teacher Preparation Standards, which address content in mathematics foundations and pedagogy.
Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure, only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.
Test Requirement www.ets.org/praxis New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:9B-9.1 Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) State Partners http://caepnet.org/working-together/state-partners 2018 CAEP K-6 Elementary Teacher Preparation Standards http://caepnet.org/accreditation/caep-accreditation/caep-k-6-elementary-teacher-standards
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous mathematics assessment.
Although New Jersey is on the right track in requiring an elementary assessment with subtests, the state's efforts fall short because it allows a test exemption for candidates who fail the test by five percent to meet subject-matter requirements with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
New Jersey cited its administrative code, 6A:9A-1.2, which states that, "Educator preparation programs shall function along a continuum of rigorous pre-professional preparation, certification, and professional development to prepare educators to support improved student achievement of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS)".
The state also cited 6A:9-3.3 and 3.4 New Jersey Professional Standards for Teachers Alignment with InTASC ii. Essential Knowledge
(6) The teacher understands that literacy skills and processes are applicable in all content areas and helps students to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions that enable them to construct meaning and make sense of the world through reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing.
(7) The teacher understands the concepts inherent in numeracy to enable students to represent physical events, work with data, reason, communicate mathematically, and make connections within their respective content areas in order to solve problems.
2B: Teaching Elementary Mathematics
Required math coursework should be tailored in both design and delivery to the unique needs of the elementary teacher. Aspiring elementary teachers must acquire a deep conceptual knowledge of the mathematics that they will teach, moving well beyond mere procedural understanding. Their training should focus on the critical areas of numbers and operations; algebra; geometry; and, to a lesser degree, data analysis and probability.
To ensure that elementary teachers are well trained to teach the essential subject of mathematics, states must require teacher preparation programs to cover these four areas in coursework that is specially designed for prospective elementary teachers. Leading mathematicians and math educators have found that elementary teachers are not well served by courses designed for a general audience and that methods courses also do not provide sufficient preparation. According to Dr. Roger Howe, a mathematician at Yale University: "Future teachers do not need so much to learn more mathematics, as to reshape what they already know."
States' policies should require preparation in mathematics of appropriate breadth and depth and specific to the needs of the elementary teacher. Reports by NCTQ on teacher preparation, beginning with No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools (2008) and continuing through the Teacher Prep Review, have consistently found few elementary teacher preparation programs across the country providing high-quality preparation in mathematics. Whether through standards or coursework requirements, states must ensure that their preparation programs graduate only teacher candidates who are well prepared to teach mathematics.
Many state tests offer no assurance that teachers are prepared to teach mathematics. An increasing number of states require passage of a mathematics subtest as a condition of licensure, but many states still rely on subject-matter tests that include some items (or even a whole section) on mathematics instruction. However, since subject-specific passing scores are not required, one need not know much mathematics in order to pass. In fact, in some cases one could answer every mathematics question incorrectly and still pass. States need to ensure that it is not possible to pass a licensure test that purportedly covers mathematics without knowing the critical material.
The content of these tests poses another issue: these tests should properly test elementary content but not at an elementary level. Instead, problems should challenge the teacher candidate's understanding of underlying concepts and apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures. The MTEL test required by both Massachusetts and North Carolina remains the standard bearer for a high quality, rigorous assessment for elementary teachers entirely and solely focused on mathematics.