May 18, 2022

Mississippi State named national leader for preparing future elementary teachers to teach math

Darkhorse Press

Sarah Davis, a junior elementary education major from Jackson, Alabama, plays a math game with students at Sudduth Elementary in Starkville. Davis was one of many MSU students helping first graders at Sudduth as part of Math Day, a collaboration between MSU and the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District. (photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

Mississippi State’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program is among the best in the nation when it comes to ensuring these future educators have the essential content and skills they need to teach mathematics.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, a national research and policy organization that regularly evaluates core requirements and practices of over 1,100 programs preparing future elementary teachers, released a new report today [May 17] in which MSU’s undergraduate program earned an A+ designation for its requirements in elementary mathematics. MSU is among only 79 programs in the nation to earn this distinction as an “exemplar” in the new report.

NCTQ evaluated programs for their coverage of both the key mathematics content that elementary teachers need: numbers and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry and measurement, and data analysis and probability, as well as math pedagogy, or how to teach these concepts. The recommended minimum instructional time that future elementary teachers need in these essential math topics is based on guidance NCTQ received from teacher preparation programs, mathematicians and math educators as part of an expert panel. The organization noted that Mississippi State stands apart by meeting 100% of the instructional goals across each of the elementary mathematics topic areas.

“We are honored to have our elementary mathematics education program earn an A+ rating from the National Council on Teacher Quality,” said Teresa Jayroe, dean of MSU’s College of Education. “Our elementary mathematics education faculty are some of the finest in the country and have worked tirelessly to ensure our teacher candidates enter the field fully prepared across all the content strands.”

Research studies have found that elementary math skills are a strong predictor of whether or not a student will graduate from high school. Recent data has found that students in many states have lost more learning in math than in reading over the past two years and pre-existing gaps in math achievement have worsened since 2020 between low-poverty and high-poverty schools and between majority-White and majority-Black schools, signifying the need for elementary teachers to be well prepared to teach mathematics has never been more urgent.

“We know how much math matters in setting a foundation for students,” said NCTQ President Heather Peske. “The biggest in-school difference we can make for students’ math learning is to make sure their elementary teachers understand key math content and know how to teach math effectively. Mississippi State University should be proud to be among the top teacher preparation programs in the country working towards this goal.”

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