Most education schools don't prepare elementary teachers well enough in math, researchers from the National Council on Teacher Quality say. A new study analyzed programs at 77 education schools across the country, which is about 5 percent of the institutions that offer elementary teacher certifications. The study found that 87 percent of the schools fail to provide the rigorous coursework elementary teachers need. Prospective teachers are expected to know little math before enrolling in teacher preparation programs, the study said; one out of six schools admit teachers without testing arithmetic knowledge. Schools that did test for math tested only content taught up to middle-school level, which is practically the same content required in state licensing exams.
The report says these findings might provide an explanation for American students' mediocre performance in mathematics compared with their counterparts abroad. According to a 2004 Trends in International Mathematics and Science study, U.S. fourth-graders ranked 12th out of 25 countries in math skills. Eighth-graders ranked 15th out of 44 countries.