Chapter 3. Program Characteristics to Develop Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions

Teacher preparation programs can take various forms, such as undergraduate degree programs in education (or a related field) leading to initial certification or licensure, fifth-year programs (possibly leading to a graduate degree) designed for persons with relevant undergraduate degrees to gain initial certification or licensure, and non-degree programs offered by institutions of higher education, school districts, or other providers designed to enable prospective teachers to attain initial certification or licensure. Moreover, these programs may be specific to mathematics (often focusing on the middle or high school levels) or may lead to more general certifications that include mathematics (such as early childhood or elementary grades, as well as special education). Whatever the structure of the program, it should meet the program standards described in this document to ensure that its completers attain the standards of knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed by a well-prepared beginning teacher of mathematics.

Within this chapter, we often refer to courses. We define courses to include university or college courses-for-credit as well as other intensive, ongoing activities that provide equivalent opportunities for professional learning. A learning experience can be considered equivalent to a course, however, only if it includes rigorous goals and objectives and incorporates related assessments to ensure that candidates have met those goals and objectives.

In Chapter 2, we described standards and indicators denoting the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed by well-prepared beginning teachers of mathematics. In this chapter, we describe standards and indicators for teacher preparation programs to ensure that their students meet those standards. Additional expectations specific to a particular grade-band are provided in Chapters 4 through 7 as elaborations.

Organization of this Chapter

In this chapter the characteristics of effective mathematics teacher preparation programs are described in five sections. In the first section, the important role of partnerships among stakeholders in ensuring the effective preparation of mathematics teachers is described. In the second, the opportunities to learn mathematics for teaching that need to be provided to candidates are elaborated, whereas in the third, we describe opportunities to learn to effectively teach the mathematics that candidates need. The fourth addresses candidates’ opportunities to learn in clinical settings. In the fifth, we discuss effective practices for recruiting (and retaining) candidates into mathematics teacher preparation.

Each standard includes a number of more specific indicators for that standard, along with accompanying explanations. These standards and indicators apply for all well-prepared beginning teachers of mathematics from prekindergarten through high school. Although examples from a particular grade-band may be included to help explain a standard or indicator, Chapters 4 through 7 will provide additional explanation, as appropriate, to address the specialized needs for preparing mathematics teachers at a given grade level.

Table 3.1. Standards and Related Indicators for Effective Programs for Preparing Beginning Teachers of Mathematics



P.1. Partnerships

An effective mathematics teacher preparation program has significant input and participation from all appropriate stakeholders.

P.1.1. Engage All Partners Productively

P.1.2. Provide Institutional Support

P.2. Opportunities to Learn Mathematics

An effective mathematics teacher preparation program provides candidates with opportunities to learn mathematics and statistics that are purposefully focused on essential big ideas across content and processes that foster a coherent understanding of mathematics for teaching.

P.2.1. Attend to Mathematics Content Relevant to Teaching

P.2.2. Build Mathematical Practices and Processes

P.2.3. Provide Sustained, Quality Experiences

P.3. Opportunities to Learn to Teach Mathematics

An effective mathematics teacher preparation program provides candidates with multiple opportunities to learn to teach through mathematics-specific methods courses (or equivalent professional learning experiences) in which mathematics, practices for teaching mathematics, knowledge of students as learners, and the social contexts of mathematics teaching and learning are integrated.

P.3.1. Address Deep and Meaningful Mathematics Content Knowledge

P.3.2. Provide Foundations of Knowledge About Students as Mathematics Learners

P.3.3. Address the Social Contexts of Teaching and Learning

P.3.4. Incorporate Practice-Based Experiences

P.3.5. Provide Effective Mathematics Methods Instructors

P.4. Opportunities to Learn in Clinical Settings

An effective mathematics teacher preparation program includes clinical experiences that are guided on the basis of a shared vision of high-quality mathematics instruction and have sufficient support structures and personnel to provide coherent, developmentally appropriate opportunities for candidates to teach and to learn from their own teaching and the teaching of others.

P.4.1. Collaboratively Develop and Enact Clinical Experiences

P.4.2. Sequence School-Based Experiences

P.4.3. Provide Teaching Experiences With Diverse Learners

P.4.4. Recruit and Support Qualified Mentor Teachers and Supervisors


P.5. Recruitment and Retention of Teacher Candidates

An effective mathematics teacher preparation program attracts, nurtures, and graduates high-quality teachers of mathematics who are representative of diverse communities.

P.5.1. Recruit Strong Candidates

P.5.2. Address Diverse Community Needs

P.5.3. Provide Experiences and Support Structures

Closing Remarks

In this chapter, we described five important standards that are essential aspects of effective mathematics teacher preparation programs. These interrelated standards focus on partnerships, learning mathematics, learning to teach mathematics, learning in clinical settings, and recruitment and retention. High-quality teacher preparation programs attend to each of these important aspects, along with the standards described in Chapter 2, to produce well-prepared beginning teachers of mathematics.