Raise Math Requirements for Teacher Certification in Manitoba
- Premier Greg Selinger and the Honourable Nancy Allan, Minister of Education
The majority of elementary and middle years teachers in the province of Manitoba are required to teach mathematics.
What are the current math requirements for certification as a teacher in Manitoba?
University students enrolled in the early or middle years education stream in universities are required, by the province of Manitoba, to take at least 3 credit hours in mathematics or statistics at the university level in order to receive teacher certification.
Why is this not enough?
Currently, many students enter education faculties in the universities in Manitoba with the least demanding of the Grade 12 mathematics courses - Grade 12 Consumer Math 40S (soon to be replaced by Essential Math 40S, which is equally weak in math content). University math professors have found that students with this minimum requirement often have alarmingly weak mathematics skills and high levels of math anxiety.
Courses have been created at the university level to accommodate these students. However, university professors cannot make up for years of neglect caused by taking inadequate math courses at the high school level in a 3 credit hour university course. Many of these students struggle to satisfy their mathematics requirement by failing and then re-taking a math course several times and some satisfy the requirement by taking math appreciation courses which, while interesting and enlightening, may not develop their math skills. University students who are training to be teachers and have graduated from high school with the minimum mathematics requirement of Grade 12 Consumer Math 40S are themselves telling us that this high school course is insufficient for success in a university math course and as a teacher. Currently, students are being misled into believing that they can successfully teach math at the early and middle year levels without having taken Grade 12 Pre-Calculus Mathematics 40S or Grade 12 Applied Mathematics 40S, at the very least.
How does this affect children in Manitoba?
Teachers who are uncomfortable with mathematics may avoid spending time teaching math in the classroom. It has also been documented that math anxiety in a classroom teacher may transfer to his or her students and can negatively affect their math achievement , .
Raising high school mathematics requirements for university students entering the early or middle years education streams is one step towards breaking this cycle.
Since mathematics is a cumulative subject which is required to enter fields in science, computing, engineering, and finance, to name a few, it is extremely important that students develop a strong foundation in mathematics through instruction from a qualified teacher in the early and middle years. Without a strong background in mathematics, children may ultimately be shut out of careers in these fields.
Why does an early years teacher need to have a strong background in mathematics?
Although a teacher may set out to become, for instance, a kindergarten teacher, when he or she receives teacher certification in Manitoba, he or she is certified to teach any subject in any grade and will typically - at least at one point in his or her career - teach a different grade from that which he or she originally hoped to teach. Furthermore, a high level of mathematics competency and sophistication is required to effectively teach math from at least Grade 3 onwards . For this reason, math requirements must be raised for all teachers who seek certification as elementary or middle years teachers in the province of Manitoba.
Teachers are respected, intelligent, and capable professionals who have a profound impact on children and society. It is not unreasonable to expect a teacher, who is required to teach mathematics, to have succeeded in Grade 12 Pre-Calculus Mathematics 40S.
It should not be left to universities to set the mathematics requirements for teachers in the province. For provincial consistency, and to maintain a high level of math knowledge among all teachers in the province, provincial officials need to raise these standards.
For the benefit of the children of Manitoba and for the benefit of teachers in Manitoba, we urge the Manitoba government to raise the mathematics requirement for teacher certification in the province of Manitoba.
1. Sian L. Beilock, Elizabeth A. Gunderson, Gerardo Ramirez, and Susan C. Levine, "Female Teachers’ Math Anxiety Affects Girls’ Achievements", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , Vol. 107, No. 5, 2010, pp. 1860 - 1863. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/5/1860.full.pdf+html
2. Susan L. Swars, C.J. Danne, and Judy Giesen, "Mathematics Anxiety and Mathematics Teacher Efficacy: What is the Relationship in Elementary Preservice Teachers?", School Science and Mathematics, Vol. 106, Issue 7, 2006, pp. 306 - 315.
3. Hung-Hsi Wu, "What's Sophisticated about Elementary Math? Plenty - That's Why Elementary Schools Need Math Teachers", American Educator , Fall 2009, pp. 1 - 14. http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/fall2009/wu.pdf
A minimum of Grade 12 Pre-Calculus Mathematics 40S (strongly recommended) or Grade 12 Applied Mathematics 40S, or equivalent, from high school.