2011 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 Mexico relies on coursework requirements, its standards for teacher preparation programs and its subject-matter testing requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
The state requires elementary teaching candidates to earn at least nine semester hours of credit in mathematics. However, New Mexico specifies neither the requisite content of these classes nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers.
New Mexico has also articulated teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content. These standards outline key areas in mathematics, such as two- and three-dimensional geometry and "elements of algebra including elementary functions." However, these standards lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates.
Finally, all new elementary teachers in New Mexico must pass a general subject-matter test, the state's own series of assessments (New Mexico Teacher Assessments or NMTA). This test's standards appropriately address content in mathematics foundations, but although they outline such areas as algebra, geometry and statistics, the standards are not specifically geared to meet the needs of elementary teachers. In addition, New Mexico posts only a limited number of sample items, and a review of this material calls the rigor of its test into question; the test items representing elementary school content assess understanding at too superficial a level. Further, the state's test does not provide a specific mathematics passing score, so it may be possible to fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test.
New Mexico Administrative Code 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 http://www.nmta.nesinc.com/ Score Report Explanation http://www.nmta.nesinc.com/NM10_scorereport_opener.asp
Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although New Mexico requires knowledge in some 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 Mexico 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. At a minimum, New Mexico should require a passing score specifically in math for its current content assessments. Teacher candidates who lack minimum mathematics knowledge should not be eligible for licensure.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.