No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools, June 2008
American students’ chronically poor performance in mathematics on international tests may begin in the earliest grades, handicapped by the weak knowledge of mathematics of their own elementary teachers. NCTQ looks at the quality of preparation provided by a representative sampling of institutions in nearly every state. We also provide a test developed by leading mathematicians which assesses for the knowledge that elementary teachers should acquire during their preparation. Imagine the implications of an elementary teaching force being able to pass this test.
Using data from the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS), this Issue Brief reports on trends in the attrition of public school mathematics and science teachers over a 16-year period and examines the reasons given by mathematics and science teachers for leaving teaching employment. Findings from the analysis indicate that the percentage of public school mathematics and science teachers who left teaching employment did not change measurably between 1988–89 and 2004–05. However, the percentage of other public school teachers who left teaching employment did increase over the same period. Differences were found between mathematics and science leavers and other leavers. For example, of those teachers with a regular or standard certification, a smaller percentage of mathematics and science teachers than other teachers left teaching employment. In addition, when asked to rate various reasons for leaving the teaching profession, greater percentages of mathematics and science leavers than other leavers rated better salary or benefits as very important or extremely important.