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U.S. falls short in measure of future math teachers


America’s future math teachers, on average, earned a “C” on a new test comparing their skills with their counterparts in 15 other countries, reports the New York Times–significantly outscoring college students in the Philippines and Chile but placing far below those in educationally advanced nations like Singapore and Taiwan. The researchers who led the study judged the results acceptable, if not encouraging, for America’s future elementary teachers. But they called the results disturbing for American students heading to careers in middle schools, who were outscored by students in Germany, Poland, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan. On average, at least 80 percent of the future middle school teachers from the highest-achieving countries took advanced courses such as linear algebra and calculus, while only 50 to 60 percent of their counterparts in the United States took those courses. “The study reveals that America’s middle school mathematics teacher preparation is not up to the task,” said lead author William H. Schmidt of Michigan State University. To improve its competitiveness, he said, the U.S. should recruit stronger candidates into math teaching careers and require them to take more advanced courses…

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