Friday, April 14, 2017

Master in Teaching Year 1 - training to teach effectively or ??

I've been wondering why the performance of the math students in the USA in TIMSS at grade 8, NAEP at grades 4, 8, and 12, and PISA (15 year-olds) is not impressive in comparison to high performing  nations.  I may have stumbled onto a partial answer: teacher training, in some places is more about allegiance to an ideology of social change than about training teachers to construct and deliver efficient effective lessons.

Consider the Masters in Teaching Year 1 program at the Evergreen State College.  Evergreen offers no undergraduate route to teacher certification preferring to offer a two year Masters program leading to a Masters of Education and a teaching credential.

Masters in Teaching Year 1:

More than two decades ago, educator Marilyn Cochrane-Smith asked, "Can prospective teachers learn to be both educators and activists, to regard themselves as agents for change, and to regard reform as an integral part of the social, intellectual, ethical and political activity of teaching?”  In the MiT 2015-17 program, we take up this challenge as we prepare teachers who recognize teaching as a political activity and knowingly take on the role of activist based on a commitment to eliminate the inequities that exist in classrooms and the broader community.
 If we are to be effective advocates for our students and to empower our students to transform their own lives, we must deepen, and perhaps challenge, our current beliefs about teaching and learning.  As teachers we must develop within ourselves the emotional and intellectual attributes needed to understand, support, and teach our future students, and to meet their diverse needs.
 Future teachers can expect to see a more diverse population of students. The MiT program prepares teachers who can draw on the strengths of students from a wide range of ethnic origins, languages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Further, these students will live in a society requiring people to engage diverse cultures through effective collaboration and creative problem-solving grounded in integrated technological skills and active use of a wide range of information resources. Thus, the MiT program will support candidates to develop as critical, reflective educators who not only care deeply about issues of race, class, poverty, and justice but are prepared to act on these issues to support student achievement.
Experiences in classrooms serve as vital parts of the MiT program. Field experiences in urban, rural, and suburban communities enable teacher candidates to mediate their understanding of theoretical ideas and concepts presentedin program coursework. Likewise, our academic investigations inform teacher candidates’ experiences in the field. These two sites for learning are bridged through meaningful activities that require teacher candidates to integrate what they learn across classrooms and coursework.
 Among the questions that will engage our study and practice are:
  • What effective teaching practices encourage students' curiosity and lead them to shape their own questions and pursue their own answers using critical and reflective thinking?
  • How does teachers’ knowledge of learning theory, research-based pedagogy and neurobiology contribute to children's and adolescents' learning and development?
  • How are questions of democracy, equity and excellence related to success or failure in our public schools and civic engagement in a democratic society?
  • How are the more traditional literacies of reading, writing, and quantitative reasoning related to personal, economic, and political oppression and power?
  • How can teachers respond to and work with family and cultural belief systems that shape children's lives? How can teachers draw on community resources to connect content knowledge to students' lived experiences?
Apparently students who desire to learn how to best deliver effective efficient lessons to students may be in the wrong place at the Evergreen State College, as this program emphasizes political and social change.  

Is this program strengthening the teaching profession?

Is this program contributing to instruction that reduces the achievement gap for educationally disadvantaged learners?


The Masters in Teaching Program Year 1 at Evergreen has 9 instructors and apparently none of them has as much as a B.A. in Mathematics.  Are we to believe that the training of teachers will have a focus to produce better teachers of Math, Science, Engineering, or Mathematics?  

Masters in Teaching Year 2 

Taught by Terry Ford -
B.A., English, Whitman College, 1983; Ed.M., Secondary Education, Washington State University, 1988; Ph.D., Literacy Education, Washington State University, 1993.

Erica Hernandez-Scott
B.A., Elementary Education, Rockhurst University, KCMO, 200; M.A., Curriculum and Instruction (Emphases: Multicultural and Urban Education), University of Missouri at Kansas City, KCMO, 2008; Ph.D., Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies and Educational __


Apparently none of these 11 instructors in the Masters in Teaching program could be certified to teach high school math in Washington State, yet they are training teachers.   The state has supposedly increased the emphasis on producing better prepared students to eventually pursue jobs in STEM fields.


Will new elementary teachers be prepared to offer instruction equivalent to that provided by k-6 teachers in Singapore?

Math preparation of USA and Singapore Teachers
Grade 4 teachers:
Major in primary education and major (or specialization) in mathematics.

59% Singapore / about 4.5 times US
13% USA
International Average 27%

Grade 8 teachers:
Major in Mathematics Education and Mathematics
53% - Singapore / about 1.5 times US
35% - USA
international avg 36%
Major in Math but no major in Math Education
31% - Singapore
12% - USA
international avg 36%
Major in Math Ed but no major in Mathematics
6% - Singapore / less than 1/3 of US
22% - USA
international avg 13%

My observation is that:
Most current leaders in USA school districts and state offices of education directing math decisions are holders of degrees in Math education but very often no degree in Mathematics.

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