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.
Utah relies on both coursework requirements and national accreditation standards for teacher preparation programs as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
The state requires that all elementary teacher candidates in Utah complete an unspecified amount of "study and experiences" in mathematics. However, Utah specifies neither the requisite content of these classes nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers.
Utah has also adopted NCATE's ACEI (Association for Childhood Education International) standards for approving its elementary programs. ACEI standards address content in mathematics foundations, but these standards lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver other mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates. For example, ACEI algebra standards state that teacher candidates should "know, understand and apply algebraic principles," but these standards make little mention of the actual knowledge that might contribute to such an understanding.
Utah has recently adopted the new Praxis II "Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects" content test, which will report a specific subscore for mathematics.
Utah Administrative Code R277-504-7 http://www.acei.org/standhp.htm 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 ACEI standards require some knowledge in key areas of mathematics, Utah 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.
Ensure that new test is a rigorous mathematics assessment.
Utah should make certain it is assessing 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.
Utah asserted that its teacher preparation programs are now required to teach to the Common Core Standards in mathematics, and professional development is being provided to prepare faculty members. University mathematicians have played a key role in developing professional development, curriculum guides and materials for elementary teachers to understand and teach the student performance standards in mathematics found in the Common Core Standards.
Utah also pointed out that as of September 2012, it will require that elementary education candidates pass the new Praxis II content test, which will be comprised of four subtests, including math. Candidates will have to earn a passing score on each subtest to pass the overall test.