Schmidt: Do middle school math teachers get enough preparation?

November 22, 2011

AĀ recentĀ opinion pieceĀ from the Orlando SentinelĀ addressed one of Florida education’s mostĀ troubling statistics: that only 28 percent of Floridian eighth-graders areĀ considered “proficient” in mathematics. The solution? Attract top math teachers to middle schools, said guest columnist Paul Cottle.

Cottle referenced the research of MSU professorĀ William Schmidt, whichĀ said thatĀ U.S. math instructionĀ is weak because the teachers themselves often have weak math skills.

“Current teacher-preparation programs for middle-school math instructors in the United States do not produce teachers with an internationally competitive level of mathematics knowledge,” Schmidt stated in a press release.

Cottle suggestedĀ that the low salaries of middle schoolĀ math teachers may be a factor.

“Starting teachers’ salaries in Florida are near $35,000. In contrast, the average starting salary offer in a non-teaching job for a recent bachelor’s-degree graduate in mathematics is much higher ā€” close to $50,000 during the 2008-2009 academic year,” Cottle wrote. “Paying math teachers more ā€” maybe $10,000 per year more ā€” might attract a larger number of strong math students into teaching.”

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