Experts outline challenges facing math instruction


“If you want to retain teachers, you want to retain your best teachers. … We want to make sure that we [help] get new teachers better, faster,” she said, adding that math, science, and special education teachers are among the most needed across the country.

Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession soon after they enter it, but focused mentoring and induction programs along with content-specific support might help new teachers remain in the profession.

“A beginning teacher with a strong mentoring program will succeed, they will stay in the classroom and get better faster, and ultimately they increase student achievement,” Mike said.

For more information on improving math achievement, see:

Boosting Math Skills Through Personalized Instruction

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To help new teachers feel confident in front of students and feel supported in the school culture, three things are necessary, Mike said:

  • Highly-skilled mentors;
  • Addressing the needs of beginning teachers; and
  • Access to a community of practice where new teachers have a chance to collaborate with veteran teachers in order to improve their practice.

“If we’re really committed to engaging at-risk students, we need to put the best teachers in front of those kids,” Mike said.

“Most teachers in this country have English Language Learners in their classrooms,” said Dr. Susie Hakansson, director of the California Mathematics Project. “We want to develop mathematical proficiency for all students, particularly ELLs.”

When it comes to learning algebra, ELL students face challenges accessing mathematics content, understanding the language of mathematics, teachers’ expectations of ELLs, and equity and quality, she said.

Laura Ascione

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