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Aspiring Massachusetts Teachers Fail In Math

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the x-isn't-even-a-number dept.

Idle 15

Unfortunately for the 73% of prospective new teachers who failed to pass the math section of the state elementary school teacher's licensing exam, Massachusetts does not grade on a curve. More than 600 applicants took the exam that tests knowledge of elementary school mathematics including geometry, statistics, and probability. Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, says "The high failure rate puts a shining light on a deficiency in teacher-prep programs."

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Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (2, Insightful)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016461)

OMFG!!! They were *supposed* to have learned this stuff in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL...... How is that a failing of the teacher prep? It sounds like a failing of the public education system.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016715)

I've ran into people that made it halfway through high school without being able to read. It happens.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017005)

I'm sorry, but where the hell are you from that you've meet people in high school like this. This does show that the way were taught is wrong, the kids forget everything as soon as the test is over.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018121)

This happens more than you think.

I know personally 3 people like this with high school diplomas. They can NOT read, write, do basic math (1+1=2 stuff) way beyond them. They even freely admit it. Everyone around them enables them to continue to slack to this day. I saw a documentary on one dude who got all the way thru college. He was good at basketball.

When the coaches run the school, and you pay 15k a year for a teacher you get what you pay for. *cough* North Carolina *cough*

I was shocked when I met these people. I was like you and was 'where the HELL did you go to school'. It didnt matter about the school per se. The teachers let them slack, the parents let them slack, their friends let them slack, and so on...

Friend of mine his kid was about to fail. The school passed him on. He should have failed and my friend went to the principal for it to attempt to make sure the kid was held back. The kid was still promoted.

This is way more common than you think.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024391)

It's not as much the way we teach kids as it is some kids need different methods of teaching. It's almost like your favorite color, you could find blue to be really pleasing and I can find it depressing. It isn't because something is wrong with any of us, it's because we are unique and different individuals.

As for forgetting something after the test, well you need to either use it or lose it. I know working professionals who have forgottent half the stuff they could ramble on about at will just a few years after retiring. It's not because they are old and their mind is going, it's because they aren't using the information enough to remember it.

A case in point, I used to work at a family dining restaurant some 15 years ago when going to school. I had ever recipe in the store memorized and could recited them to anyone asking and I could easily double or halve them in my head as I was prepping or preparing the stuff. Now, 15 years later, I can barely remember half the ingredients to some of the stuff let alone how much went into the creations or how many servings you got from it. And that was something I did for 5 years.

Now, about the high school kids who can't read. This was more common when I was in school then it is now but it still happens. The problem isn't sports or coaches pushing the kids through, it's a combination of a lot of things. Teachers no caring or being equipt to handle students that are so far behind everyone else is part of it. A system that doesn't want a 16 year old teen in sixth grade or an 18 year old in middle school is another part of the problem. Some teachers are actually afraid of some of the students and won't flunk them out of fear of retribution while others are take pitty and pass them thinking there is no hope for more and they think they would be screwed or forced into a life of crime without the basic necessities like a diploma.

There are all sorts of reasons, teaching kids the wrong way are way down on the list and effect only a minority of students. The school teachers in question just graduated college and trained in that area and failed to demonstrate their abilities. There could be any number of reasons but most likely it would be the universities the obtained their degrees in.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (3, Interesting)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017697)

This is a sore point for me. For a time, I was trying to get a job as a social studies teacher in New York. Most interviews went this way.

At some point during an on-site interview, in addition to filling out a job application and interviewing with one or more people, I would be asked to write a short essay, on the spot, in longhand. It was usually something like, "Tell about a time when a student really affected you," or some other touchy-feely thing.

I soon realized, since people include all sorts of fluff in their cover letter, that this was more or less a literacy test. Believe me, I went to school with other education majors. Some of them have huge holes in what you would consider basic education. Even some of the English majors are lacking (though not as bad as some of the other majors).

In any case, here's what I consider to be the irony. I was educated in New York public schools. I went to a state university in New York, both as an undergraduate (in history) and for graduate studies (in education). I am a product of New York public schooling. All of this is available on my resume. Moreover, I had to pass certain standardized tests in New York, given to teachers as a part of licensing requirements. The schools I was applying to were public schools. So, the joke is that even with a B.A. and an M.A., and my state certification, the schools could not trust my credentials -- and my credentials are the credentials they themselves award! They are credentials awarded by the New York State education system.

That's how bad it's gotten.

Really Watson? Elementary? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#28020207)

Since when are statistics and probability taught in elementary schools?

Did Massachusetts become a Vulcan colony recently?

Re:Really Watson? Elementary? (2, Informative)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28020475)

Around the same time they stopped speaking english. Check out the

Practice Test in PDF form [nesinc.com]

It was like a random-word generator spat out the questions in the most convoluted way possible, asking the oddest, nonsensical questions they can. For example:

Given that 100 milliliters is equal to approximately 0.4 cup, 205 milliliters is equal to approximately how many cups?

Which of the following expressions models the solution to the problem above?
A. (100 - 0.4)(205)
B. 105% of 0.4
C. (205 - 100)(0.4)
D. 205% of 0.4

The person who wrote this exam probably did so from a mental hospital.

Re:Really Watson? Elementary? (1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28020921)

The answer is D, obviously. I thought trick questions was an area that teachers had to excel in.

Re:Really Watson? Elementary? (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28024133)

Yeah. If the teacher can't think and decode an easy question like that, I doubt their ability to do anything. Come on, that is basic adding and fractions.

Re:Really Watson? Elementary? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28042863)

D is obviously the only correct answer. Yes, it is more properly 205 milliliters * (0.4 cups/100 milliliters), and some engineering professors would take points off for not having the units.

Re:Deficiencey in Teacher Prep???? (2, Insightful)

WNReynolds (772399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28026055)

Ummm.... before we get to high and mighty, perhaps we would like to take crack at this test ourselves: http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/PDFs/MA_FLD009_PRACTICE_TEST.pdf [nesinc.com] I would think it reasonble to expect a new undergrad in science or engineering to do this (before they start forgetting stuff). But this exam is non-trivial, and would be very tough for someone without several years of undergraduate math (like say, a humanities teacher).

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28028413)

Um?

There is NOTHING in the exam that is undergraduate level. No calculus, linear algebra, number theory, any of that stuff you only learn in college. All of it is K12 stuff: simple algebra, functions, trig and probability (as a matter of fact, other than statistics & probability, all of it seems Grade 11 or less to me).

Granted, someone who has been doing no math at all for many years could potentially forget a lot of it anyways, but ISN'T THAT WHAT STUDYING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR?? Teachers always make kids study before the exam (or fail it), why shouldn't they get some of their own medicine? Besides, teachers who teach this stuff to kids *do* need to know it themselves in order to even be able to pass the material across and explain what they are teaching, so they better brush up on anything they might have forgotten before being able to teach it.

Re:BS (1)

WNReynolds (772399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28028677)

In my experience, by the end of undergraduate, you can be expected to have "mastered" the material you learned in highschool, at the master's level, you understand what you learned as an undergraduate (and are ready to do research) etc. I don't think this has changed in the 15 years since I took my PhD qualifier. I don't think this exam is unreasonable for someone who's going to be teaching math, but I think someone with a background in humanities would find it fairly daunting, and justifiably so. My understanding is that all of the prospective teachers were made to take this exam.

Here's the really stupid thing (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28042957)

It is not knowing the subject better than your students that makes you a good teach. My father used to say "All need to do to teach a class is to read the textbook before the students do." The most important thing is understanding your target audience. Which of course is something the board of education never bothers to test for, isn't it? Half of all new teachers wash out within the first few years because they think if they just present the material, the students will magically absorb it. The ones that succeed are the ones that understand how the students they are attempt to education actually think. For teaching elementary school, I'd far prefer a teacher who understands kids well over a teacher who understands probability and statistics well.
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