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U elementary teacher program earns an A+ for math preparation

Program earns national recognition for robust requirements in key elementary mathematics content and pedagogy.

Adapted from a release by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program at the University of Utah has been named among the best in the nation when it comes to ensuring future elementary teachers have the essential content and skills they need to teach mathematics. The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a national research and policy organization that regularly evaluates the core requirements and practices of over 1,100 programs that prepare future elementary teachers released a new report today in which the undergraduate program at the University of Utah earned an A+ designation for its requirements in elementary mathematics. The University of Utah is among only 79 programs in the nation to earn this distinction as an “exemplar” in the new report.

NCTQ evaluated programs for their coverage of both the key mathematics content that elementary teachers need: Numbers and Operations, Algebraic Thinking, Geometry and Measurement, and Data Analysis and Probability, as well as how to teach those concepts (Math Pedagogy). The recommended minimum instructional time that future elementary teachers need in these essential math topics was set based on guidance NCTQ received from teacher preparation programs, mathematicians, and math educators as part of an Expert Panel. The University of Utah stands apart by meeting 100% of the instructional goals across each of the elementary mathematics topic areas.

“Teacher education at the University of Utah is a collaborative effort both within the College of Education and through multi-disciplinary partnerships with colleges from across campus. The NCTQ commendations in mathematics teacher preparation reflect the contributions and commitments to excellence held by faculty in the Department of Mathematics and the Urban Institute for Teacher Education (UITE),” says Mary Burbank, UITE director.

Research studies have found that elementary math skills are a strong predictor of whether or not a student will graduate from high school. Recent data has found that students in many states have lost more learning in math than in reading over the past two years and pre-existing gaps in math achievement have worsened since 2020 between low-poverty and high-poverty schools and between majority-White and majority-Black schools, so the need for elementary teachers to be well-prepared to teach mathematics has never been more urgent.

“We know how much math matters in setting a foundation for students,” says Heather Peske, NCTQ president. “The biggest in-school difference we can make for students’ math learning is to make sure their elementary teachers understand key math content and know how to teach math effectively. The University of Utah should be proud to be among the top teacher preparation programs in the country working towards this goal.”

See the full NCTQ report to learn more about how the University of Utah earned this top score, all scores for elementary teacher preparation programs in Utah, and the full national findings here.