Indicator P.2.1. Attend to Mathematics Content Relevant to Teaching
An effective mathematics teacher preparation program provides opportunities for candidates to learn, with understanding and depth, the school mathematics and statistics content they will teach.
Opportunities to learn mathematics content needs to be required of all who are preparing to teach mathematics or to support student learning of mathematics. That is, in addition being directed to early childhood, upper elementary school, middle and high school mathematics teachers, these standards are directed toward general education teachers at the early childhood and upper elementary level, special education teachers, teachers of emergent multilingual learners, mathematics specialists, and all others who will have responsibility for aspects of student learning in mathematics. However, the preparation needs for these particular specializations vary. We echo the recommendation of the MET II report (CBMS, 2012, p. 37): “Special education teachers and ELL teachers who have direct responsibility for teaching mathematics (a core academic subject) should have the same level of mathematical knowledge as general education teachers in the subject.” As with all teachers, they must understand not only the mathematics they will teach at a deep level but also mathematics taught before and after that grade (CBMS, 2012). Further details about this recommendation at various grade levels are included in Chapters 4–7.
Programs that are focused on the mathematical content knowledge of beginning teachers of mathematics directly address the issue of equity. All students deserve teachers who possess the content knowledge they need to teach well. By ensuring that those who complete teacher preparation programs have strong content knowledge, understanding of the practice of mathematics, and positive mathematics identities, programs are promoting a teaching workforce that provides an equitable education for each and every student. Of course, this outcome is achievable only if it is accompanied by the perspective that the purpose of teaching mathematics is to meet the needs of each and every learner. Too often, mathematics is used as a sorting subject, one that separates those who can from those who cannot. That belief has a place neither in content courses nor in other content-focused experiences for teachers. Instructors of mathematics and statistics content courses should teach in a way that engenders positive mathematics identities.