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.
Pennsylvania 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.
The state requires elementary teaching candidates to earn at least six semester hours of credit in college-level mathematics. However, Pennsylvania specifies neither 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. The state's standards appropriately address content in mathematics foundations, but although they mention such areas as algebra, geometry and statistics, 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. Pennsylvania also requires that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teacher candidates to teach to the state's elementary student curriculum.
As of April 2, 2012, the state will require the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Test (PECT) for grades PK-4. This will be a modular test that will report a specific score for mathematics. The rigor of this new assessment has yet to be determined.
Pennsylvania Code 22 Sections 354.23 Elementary Education Program Guidelines http://www.teaching.state.pa.us/teaching/cwp/view.asp?a=135&Q=93761 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 Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania 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.
Although the state's new assessment will provide a mathematics subscore, Pennsylvania should ensure that this score is not merely provided for informational purposes, but that candidates must specifically pass the math subtest to pass the overall assessment.
Pennsylvania was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that its new PK-4 certificate requires that all PK-4 candidates demonstrate knowledge of mathematics in the "appropriate depth and breadth."