Elementary Teacher Preparation in
Mathematics: New York

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics: New York results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NY-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Mathematics-6

Analysis of New York's policies

New York relies on coursework requirements, its standards for teacher preparation programs and its subject-matter testing framework as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.

The state requires all teacher candidates to complete a general education core curriculum that includes "mathematical processes." However, New York neither specifies the requisite content of these classes nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers. The state has also articulated teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content. 

All new elementary teachers in New York must pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examination liberal arts and sciences test, which covers "mathematical processes," and the Multi-Subject Content Specialty Test (CST). This test's standards address content in mathematics foundations, but although they outline such areas as algebra, geometry, statistics and data analysis, the standards are not specifically geared to meet the needs of elementary teachers. Further, neither state test provides a specific mathematics passing score, so it may be possible to fail the mathematics portion and still pass the tests.


Recommendations for New York

Require teacher preparation programs to provide mathematics content specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.
Although New York 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 York should require a passing score specifically in math for its content assessments to ensure that teacher candidates have adequate mathematics knowledge and understanding of underlying mathematics concepts. Such a score could be used to allow candidates to test out of coursework requirements. Teacher candidates who lack minimum mathematics knowledge should not be eligible for licensure.

State response to our analysis

New York asserted that early childhood and childhood certifications require teacher preparation programs to ensure that candidates have a knowledge base for teaching to the student learning standards in math. Further, New York noted that in January 2011, the Board of Regents adopted the Common Core Learning Standards for English language arts and literacy and Common Core Learning Standards for mathematics. It is, therefore, expected that preparation programs will be preparing teacher candidates to teach to these new learning standards. 

In addition, New York pointed out that it is in the process of developing new teacher certification assessments, which will test candidates' knowledge of the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards. The new content assessments for elementary and common branch teachers will be designed to test for knowledge of English language arts and literacy, mathematics and science, and arts separately. Teacher candidates will be required to pass each part independently to attain certification.

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).