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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112

BESE Approves New Math Requirement for Aspiring Elementary Educators

BROOKLINE - Aspiring elementary school teachers will now need to pass both a general knowledge test and a math test to earn their license, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to institute a math-specific proficiency exam for elementary certification.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously to adopt this new regulation at their meeting at Brookline High School on Tuesday, emphasizing the need to build student proficiency in math at an early age.

"Math, like English, is a critical subject area that students need to master to be successful later in school, college and in life," said BESE Chair Maura Banta. "This new requirement appropriately raises the bar to ensure that our youngest students get a solid grounding in math early on."

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester agreed.

"To raise student achievement in math we must strengthen the math knowledge of our teachers, he said." This is an assessment that will ensure that aspiring teachers have a deep understanding of math concepts and how what they teach in the early grades connects to the more advanced math their students will eventually have to master. In the end, the students will benefit."

The Board voted in 2007 to require new elementary and special education teachers to pass a test of math proficiency to improve the level of math education students receive in early grades. Prior to Tuesday's vote elementary educators were required to pass a general curriculum test that included some math questions; they are now required to earn a passing score on both the multi-subject and math tests.

Today's action stipulates that for the next three years teacher candidates who score between 227 and 239 out of 300 points will earn their preliminary or initial license. They will then be required to score at least a 240 on a retest over the next five years before renewing their license or moving to the next stage of licensure.

The test was given for the first time March to more than 600 would-be educators. In all, 27 percent of those tested scored 240 or above; 42 percent scored 227 or above.

This transitional provision will be in effect for three years, and will end in 2012 when the passing score will be permanently set at 240 for an initial license. Veteran elementary teachers will not have to take the exam.

Last Updated: May 19, 2009
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