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Breaking the Cycle: An International Comparison of U.S. Mathematics Teacher Preparation

Abstract

"The Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M) examined teacher preparation in 16 countries looking at how primary level and middle school level teachers of mathematics were trained. The study examined the course taking and practical experiences provided by teacher preparation programs at colleges, universities and normal schools. The study reveals that middle school mathematics teacher preparation is not up to the task. U.S. future teachers find themselves, straddling the divide between the successful and the unsuccessful, leaving the U.S. with a national choice of which way to go. The findings of TEDS-M additionally revealed that the preparation of elementary teachers to teach mathematics was comparatively somewhat better as the U.S. found itself in the middle of the international distribution.

U.S. future teachers are getting weak training mathematically, and are just not prepared to teach the demanding mathematics curriculum we need especially for middle schools if we hope to compete internationally. It is important for us as a nation to understand that teacher preparation programs are critical, not only for future teachers, but also for the children they will be teaching. It is quite striking that the performance of the future teachers in terms of their mathematics content knowledge at both levels parallels so closely that of the students they teach."

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