The Preparation Gap: Teacher Education for Middle School Mathematics in Six Countries (MT21)

Heather Cope

William H. Schmidt, et al
December 2007

It's been a less-than-stellar few weeks for U.S. performance on international benchmarks (PIRLS, PISA, etc.), and the hits just keep on coming. Not only are other countries producing higher-performing students; they are also doing a better job of preparing math teachers for their middle grades. Michigan State's Bill Schmidt, with collaborators from five other countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan), found that American math teachers arrive in middle schools with less mathematical and pedagogical know-how than their peers in other countries. Aspiring teachers in the U.S. cover in college only 43 percent of advanced math topics; in South Korea and Taiwan, they study 79 and 86 percent, respectively, of such topics. This study is the tip of a future iceberg; Schmidt now heads the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics, which will include 19 countries and survey aspiring teachers in alternative certification programs. Read the MT21 study here.