The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.
West Virginia 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 elementary teaching candidates complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of combined coursework in areas that include mathematics. West Virginia then specifically requires that elementary teacher candidates complete a minimum of nine hours of college-level mathematics courses, including a course in college algebra, and a three-hour course in mathematics methods.
Finally, West Virginia 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.
Title 126 Legislative Rules, Board of Education, Series 114, Policy 5100, 6.3.3(a) Title 126 Legislative Rules, Board of Education, Series 136, Policy 5202 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 West Virginia requires mathematics coursework, 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.
West Virginia 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.
West Virginia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of adopting "elementary mathematics specialist" standards, which would be incorporated into the preparation of elementary educators. West Virginia also noted that it is exploring the option of adopting a new Praxis II elementary education test, which will include subscores for each of the four content areas: reading, math, social studies and science.