Education policies around the U.S. have focused intensely on reforming teacher preparation programs. Illinois has engaged in such efforts by restructuring requirements governing the curriculum of teacher preparation programs and testing requirements for teacher certification in mathematics and other disciplines. The recent moves to improve mathematics teacher preparation in particular are driven largely by the belief that well-prepared teachers are critical for ensuring that students receive strong mathematics educations. However, policy efforts to increase the quality of mathematics teacher preparation programs are often disconnected from each other and fail to work coherently and strategically toward developing mathematics teacher knowledge and skills. These policy efforts accordingly can be improved in several ways. First, these efforts should explicitly articulate a strong vision of the skills and knowledge mathematics teachers should have. Such skills and knowledge should be grounded in subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge – an understanding of the prior conceptions and knowledge that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them into the classroom and ways of representing and communicating mathematics in ways that make it comprehensible by students. Second, policy efforts should ensure that all elements of mathematics teacher preparation programs – ranging from assessments and curriculum to mathematics teacher educator training – are aligned with such a vision. Third, these policy efforts should not be subject to constant revision and should be coherent with other major education policy reform efforts in Illinois.
Download the policy brief: Improving Mathematics Teacher Preparation Policy in Illinois