One out of three teachers in California

A new study in California finds that 1 in 3 middle-school algebra teachers is unqualified to teach the subject.

Those instructors, who lack math credentials, are also more likely to be teaching in the lowest-scoring schools, according to “California’s Teaching Force 2008,” released by the Center for the Future of Teaching & Learning, a Santa Cruz think tank.

Gaston said it’s not just the state’s responsibility. Universities need to do a better job preparing and recruiting math majors for teaching careers, she said.

The new study doesn’t say which schools have the unqualified algebra teachers. But it shows that schools doing best on algebra tests also have the highest percentage of qualified algebra teachers.

The report found that of the 3,757 instructors teaching middle-school algebra in public schools across the state, one-third – 1,277 – lack a full teaching credential with a math authorization.

Nearly a quarter of the algebra teachers, 868, had a full teaching credential but were not authorized to teach math. Another 308 algebra teachers had no credential at all, and 100 had a partial credential.

In an attempt to raise academic achievement requirements, states have failed to provide teachers who are certified in mathematics, science and special education. Raising requirements does not mean anything unless you have certified people who can teach. Unfortunately, politicians have instant solutions to highly complex problems. With a number of organizations demanding that America become more globally competitive and pay more attention to preparing students in math and science, few of them seem to realize the difficulty of doing so without adequate tools like prepared math and science teachers.