Teachers need deep understanding of topics

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It was recently announced that the Mississippi Board of Education will be lowering its standards for those pursuing a license to teach 7-12th grade math.

Now that the change has been made, instead of needing a 160 or more on the Praxis 5161 mathematics test, potential teachers only need to score a 152 or above to pass – one of the lowest cut-off scores in the nation.

According to a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, in 2015 Mississippi’s educational performance ranked 43 in the United States. While this is low, however, student scores have improved slowly between 2009 and 2015, the report states. If this improvement happened while the Praxis score was required to be 160 or above, what will happen to this upward trend when the requirements are lowered?

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While I consider myself lucky to have received a home school education before I moved on to college, there was one subject that a certified teacher taught me, math. As a home schooled student, my mother taught me everything from reading, to government, to science. However, when I got into high school, she realized she didn’t know enough about mathematics to teach the topic herself, so I took outside classes from a certified teacher.

Had she tried to teach me a topic she was not well versed, I probably would not have been able to pass the required math classes as easily – if at all.

Very often I hear friends and cousins who are still in high school complain about teachers who don’t have a firm knowledge of the subject they teach. They say they feel like they are missing out on a good education.

If teachers are not confident in their knowledge of a particular topic, how can they be expected to teach it? Mississippi may have a teacher shortage, but is lowering the standard for new teachers really the way to correct it?