ERIC Identifier: ED478713
Publication Date: 2002-09-00
Author: Milbourne, Linda A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Finding Mathematics Teachers. ERIC Digest.
Student performance in mathematics has been a matter of national concern for
many years, and formal efforts to reform mathematics education has led to the
development of national content standards (National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics (NCTM),1989) and an update of those standards. (NCTM,2000). U.S.
Governors identified mathematics achievement as a national priority by setting a
goal that "By the year 2000, United States students will be first in the world
in mathematics...achievement" (Report of the National Education Goals Panel,
1989). International comparisons of mathematics achievement, however, indicate
that this has not occurred (National Commission on Mathematics and Science
Teaching for the 21st Century, 2000).
The good news is that we know how to improve the mathematics performance of
students. Research shows that there is a connection between student achievement
in mathematics and both the structure of the curriculum and the content of
textbooks (Schmidt, et al, 2001), so ongoing development and implementation of
content standard should ultimately lead to a desired increase in achievement.
Research also indicates a positive relationship between teacher preparation and
student achievement (Fetler, 2001; Darling-Hammond, 2000). Indeed, the research
on teacher preparation in mathematics and science has led to very specific and
practical guidelines for improving teacher education programs (Committee on
Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation, 2001).
The bad news is the shortage of qualified teachers in mathematics classrooms.
Though the number of high school mathematics teachers in U. S. public schools
increased by 22,000 between 1990 and 2000 to a total of 134,000, the percentage
of teachers who are assigned to teach high school mathematics classes who are
certified to teach mathematics has decreased from 90% in 1990 to 86% in 2000.
The situation is worse in middle schools. The number of middle school
mathematics teachers has increased by 44,000 since 1994 to a total of 124,000 in
2000, but of teachers assigned to teach middle school mathematics in 2000, only
66% were certified to do so. Among the 50 states, only 11 have over 80% of their
middle school mathematics teachers certified in mathematics (Blank &
Langesen, 2001). The shortages for high-minority and low-income schools are
particularly distressing. In schools with over 50% minority enrollment in grades
7-12, 24% of mathematics teachers teach out-of-field. For high-poverty schools
where 60% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch
programs, 31% of mathematics teachers have neither an undergraduate or graduate
major or minor in mathematics (Clewell & Forcier, 2001). Though state
certification standards vary widely and some states do have higher percentages
of their teachers certified to teach mathematics, the supply of qualified
mathematics teachers remains inadequate nationwide. Indeed, 95% of urban school
districts nationwide report an immediate need for high school mathematics
teachers (Council of Great City Schools, 2000). The need to find qualified
mathematics teachers for the nation's schools is critical.
Shortages in qualified mathematics teachers led the "Glenn Commission"
(National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century,
2000) to call for a significant increase in teachers as one of its three primary
goals (p. 29). To achieve this goal, actions are needed both to identify
exemplary teacher preparation models that can be widely replicated, and to
attract larger numbers of qualified individuals into teaching mathematics.
PROGRAMS TO ENLARGE THE POOL OF MATHEMATICS TEACHERS
variety of strategies have been used to recruit and prepare qualified
mathematics teachers, from offering summer undergraduate courses that promote
teaching as a career (Della-Piana, Blake, Lopez, & Hurley, 2001) to
recruiting mathematics teachers from Russia (Becker, 2000). Clewell and Forcier
(2001) examined the range of recruitment programs and developed a continuum of
outcomes for measuring program effectiveness. Following is a brief synopsis of
The Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETP) created by the
National Science Foundation is the only national program dedicated to the
recruitment and development of mathematics and science teachers. This program
supports a variety of activities to recruit teachers from nontraditional sources
(i.e. paraprofessionals, mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who are
seeking career changes), and particular attention is given to attracting
prospective teachers from underrepresented groups. Of the more than 26,000 in
CETP programs during 1998, 42% were minorities, and of those graduating, 50%
were teaching in 1999.
A few states have established policies that provide monetary incentives for
individuals willing to teach subjects such as mathematics where there are
teacher shortages (Clewell & Forcier, 2001), but there are no broad scale
state programs specifically targeting mathematics teachers. The "Troops to
Teachers" program is a mid-career transition, referral, and placement assistance
program funded by the federal government, but administered through state support
offices, and the U. S. Department of Education's "Teacher Recruitment Grants"
support projects at the state level or partnerships between local education
agencies and teacher preparation institutions. The funded projects target a
variety of groups, including minorities; non-certified, mid-career degreed
adults; certified reentrants; teacher aides; military personnel; "Teach for
America" graduates; graduating college students with degrees in mathematics,
science, or technology; undergraduates; and high school graduates living in
School District Programs
At the local level, individual schools districts have tried to tap
nontraditional sources by targeting mid-career "switchers" and implementing
alternative certification programs. Unfortunately, few nontraditional teacher
recruitment and development programs collect and report evaluation data. In a
study of programs in the past Kirby, Darling-Hammond, and Hudson (1989) found
that graduates of alternative programs enter and remain in teaching in
proportions comparable to those of graduates from traditional programs, and
expressed interest in remaining in teaching are also comparable. Reviews of
available data on more recent programs (Clewell & Forcier, 2001) indicate
that current graduates are more likely to be minorities, and to be high
achieving college students. Though most programs are modest in size and too new
to provide reliable data on retention, early evidence suggests that some
programs are exceeding yearly recruitment targets and the national average
STEPS TO TAKE
Despite early signs that alternative programs
and policies can contribute to an increased supply of qualified mathematics
teachers, programs must be rapidly expanded and must address some issues
particularly pertinent to recruitment of mathematics teachers (Clewell & Forcier, 2001). First, the labor market for individuals educated in mathematics
has been increasing dramatically in recent years, yet the graduate pool has
remained relatively constant. As a result, the level of competition for
graduates will likely increase rather than decrease in upcoming years. This
situation is exacerbated by the ongoing salary differential between teachers and
other professionals with credentials in mathematics.
Second, research shows a positive relationship between student learning in
mathematics and teacher preparation in content knowledge and teaching methods,
so the current movement toward increased teacher preparation requirements will
serve to reduce the already limited pool of prospective teachers.
Following are actions recommended by Clewell and Forcier (2001):
*Increasing monetary incentives to teach, including raising teacher salaries,
providing scholarships, and forgiving loans of those who earn credentials to
*Supporting development of partnership structures between universities and local
schools and communities to target specific needs, share cost burdens of
preparing teachers, and facilitate placement and ongoing professional
development of teachers.
*Expanding the search for recruits among nontraditional sources, including
mid-career "switchers", retired military personnel, undergraduates switching
majors or those with undeclared majors, community college students with majors
in math-related fields, and students who prepare for teaching but do not
immediately enter the field.
*Pushing for greater evaluation and reporting of data on local programs that are
successful in recruiting and preparing mathematics teachers.
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.
Resources include publications on recruitment practices and preparation of
teachers, a teacher recruitment clearinghouse, descriptions of alternative
pathways to teaching, and links to other resources.
A program authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
FINDING RESOURCES IN THE ERIC DATABASE
The best strategy
for identifying useful resources is to use a combination of ERIC Descriptors and
ERIC Identifiers to specify the content of interest. To find resources on
teacher shortages, use the following Descriptors: "teacher supply and demand" or
"teacher shortage". To find resources related to recruitment or alternative
routes to certification, us the following Descriptors: "teacher recruitment" or
"alternative routes to certification". You can restrict your search to
mathematics teachers by using the following Descriptors: "mathematics teachers"
or "mathematics education". To stipulate a particular grade range or level, use
the following Descriptors: "elementary education", "intermediate grades",
"middle schools", "secondary education", or "elementary secondary education".
The following two Identifiers will lead you to alternative programs that have
attracted qualified candidates into teaching: "AmeriCorps" or "Teach for
Becker, J. (2000, November 15) Recruiting math
teachers in Russia. "Houston Chronicle."
Blank, R. K., & Langesen, D. (2001). "State indicators of science and
mathematics education 2001: Stat-by-state trends and new indicators from the
1999-2000 school year". Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.
Clewell, B. C., & Forcier, L. B. (2001). Increasing the number of
mathematics and science teachers: A review of teacher recruitment programs.
"Teaching and Change", 8 (4), 331-61.
Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation, National Research
Council. (2001). "Educating teachers of science, mathematics, and technology:
New practices for the new millennium". Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
[Available online at: http:// www.nap.edu/books/0309070333/html/]
Council of Great City Schools. (2000). "The urban teacher challenge: Teacher
demand in the Great City Schools". Washington, DC: Author.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement.
"Education Policy Analysis Archives", 8 (1). [Available online at:
Della-Piana,C., Blake,S., Lopez,J., & Hurley,S. (2001). "Uncle Sam wants
you: Looking for a few good teachers". (Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of
the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education ,53rd, Dallas, TX,
Fetler, M. (2001). Student mathematics achievement test scores, dropout
rates, and teacher characteristics. "Teacher Education Quarterly", 28 (1),
Kirby, S. N., Darling-Hammond, L., & Hudson, L. (1989). Nontraditional
recruits to mathematics and science teaching. "Educational Evaluation and Policy
analysis", 11 301-33.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989). "Curriculum and
evaluation standards for school mathematics". Reston, VA: Author.
National Council of Teacher of Mathematics. (2000). "Principles and standards
for school mathematics". Reston, VA: Author. [Available online at:
National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century.
(2000). "Before it's too late: A report to the nation from The National
Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century".
Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Education. [Available online at:
Report of the National Education Goals Panel. (1989). Washington, DC: U. S.
Department of Education.
Schmidt, W. H., McKnight, C. C., Houang, R. T, Wang, H., Wiley, D. E., Cogan,
L. S., & Wolfe, R. G. (2001). "Why schools matter: A cross-national
comparison of curriculum and learning". San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.