Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let's reach for the middle

Yet another article of another study of how poorly we help our students master math in school. This time they look at who is teaching math and found the following:
  • 80-100% of middle school teachers in high achieving countries took advanced math courses like algebra and calculus while only 50-60% of US middle school teachers did

American elementary teachers did about the same as most countries which is a nice move forward and actually a positive surprise for a change!

Of course the press has to found someone to question the study. In this case the person is a Dr. Kingsbury from NWEA who says "And to suggest that you can't be a good middle school math teacher unless you've taken calculus is a leap, because calculus isn't taught in middle school".

The math experts who developed the challenging ABCTE math exams felt very strongly that unless you really know the end point, you can't teach algebra. They refused to split 6-12 math into a middle and high school math certification for teachers. I have talked to many state certification leaders and get total agreement: knowing just algebra to teach algebra will not help students succeed in more advanced math.

It is time to demand more of our math teachers if we are ever going to take the lead in STEM.