Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
Wisconsin relies on its coursework requirements as the basis for articulating its requirements for the mathematics content knowledge of elementary teacher candidates.
The state requires that all teacher candidates complete a general education program that includes mathematics; however, Wisconsin specifies neither the requisite content of these classes nor that they must meet the needs of elementary teachers. The state has also articulated broad teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use to frame instruction in elementary mathematics content, but these standards lack the specificity needed to ensure that teacher preparation programs deliver this mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates.
Wisconsin requires that all new elementary teachers pass a general subject-matter test, the Praxis II. This commercial test lacks a specific mathematics subscore, so one can likely fail the mathematics portion and still pass the test. Further, while this test does cover important elementary school-level content, it barely evaluates candidates' knowledge beyond an elementary school level, does not challenge their understanding of underlying concepts and does not require candidates to apply knowledge in nonroutine, multistep procedures.
Wisconsin Administrative Code, PI 34.15 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 Wisconsin requires some coursework in 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.
Wisconsin 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.
Wisconsin pointed out that it has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics, and efforts are underway to provide all stakeholders with resources and professional development on implementing these standards. The state also noted that it will be revising its elementary content guidelines for preparation programs based on the new CCSS and InTASC standards. These new content guidelines will assist Wisconsin in reviewing its current content exam to determine if it still meets the state's needs.
Wisconsin added that up to this point, the shelf-test content exam it selected in 2001 for elementary candidates was not available with separate subscores. It now recognizes that some new testing options may be available for review, and it looks forward to moving ahead with this work.