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K-State Today

April 10, 2012



New common core math standards require shift in national teacher preparation programs

By Patrice Scott

Once again, a Kansas State University team has been invited to participate in an effort funded by the National Science Foundation to improve the education students will receive across the country. This time it is in the field of mathematics.

After a lengthy application process, the K-State team, consisting of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Education and its Professional Development Schools (PDS) Partnership districts in Manhattan-Ogden, Riley County and Wamego, was one of 38 teams nationwide selected to participate in the Math Teacher Education Partnership. The MTE-Partnership is an initiative to address secondary math teacher preparation to align with the Common Core State Standards adopted in 45 states. The K-State team has several members including two department of curriculum and instruction faculty: Sherri Martinie, assistant professor; and David Allen, associate professor and field services director. Andrew Bennett, professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and educators from the PDS districts complete the team.

College of Education Associate Dean Debbie Mercer believes a team initiative with subject matter experts is the right approach for a project of this importance.

“I am proud that Kansas State University is part of the national conversation focused on collaboration to improve mathematics educator preparation programs and mathematic student learning,” Mercer said. “We have outstanding faculty and P-12 partners working together on this in initiative.”

Martinie explained the new common core standards are a departure from the current standards, where teachers were expected to expose students to many different mathematical concepts throughout the year. The new standards shift the focus from quantity to quality, with the goal of students learning fewer concepts at a higher level and developing higher-level reasoning skills. They provide more clarity and consistency in what students are expected to learn across the country.

“I am so glad Dean Mercer brought this project to our attention because success relies heavily on the ability of teachers to teach these concepts to students,” Martinie said. “Teachers will be designing lesson plans to meet these expectations. I feel strongly that once we adjust to the changes and because we are all going to be sharing the same goals, we will be more efficient and effective. We can pool our resources and work together. A math teacher in West Virginia now has a great deal in common with a math teacher in Montana. It’s an opportunity for teachers to collaborate no matter where they are.”

In March, Martinie and Bennett attended the MTE-Partnership conference where educators gathered to validate and refine guiding principles for mathematics teacher preparation programs that will effectively implement the Common Core State Standards and will effectively prepare secondary math teacher candidates so their students are college and career ready.

The MTE-Partnership was borne out of the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI), begun by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities. The association is a commitment by 129 public research universities to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of the science and mathematics teachers they prepare. K-State is an SMTI partner and Association of Public Land-grant Universities member.