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New degree addresses critical needs in math, teacher education

March 04, 2013

A new bachelor's degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, at Arizona State University is now an approved teacher preparation program by the Arizona Department of Education. ASU students graduating under this degree program will now be eligible to receive teacher certification in the State of Arizona.

The need for highly-qualified math educators at the high school level is evident not only in Arizona, but nationally. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hopes to meet this challenge by contributing a long-term solution through the development of this ASU mathematics-secondary education degree.

“[Students] leave high school thinking that mathematics is about memorizing answer-getting procedures and they return as teachers with the same knowledge and beliefs firmly intact,” according to documents filed to support development of the degree. “A principal problem in the quality of teachers’ mathematical preparation is that they leave high school with little understanding of the mathematics they studied. This has two ramifications: students are ill-prepared to understand university-level mathematics, and they return to high school [as teachers] having never revisited the ideas of high school mathematics, that they never understood in the first place.

"The result is a vicious cycle wherein poorly-educated high school students return as teachers, who have no greater insight into the secondary mathematics curriculum than when they completed high school.”

The new degree, which will officially launch in fall 2013, is expected to contribute to a long-term solution to this vicious cycle by focusing on future teachers’ mathematical preparation for teaching secondary school mathematics. The ASU degree stand outs for its sequencing of courses, which is designed to provide mathematics education students with early and ongoing experiences in inquiry mathematics, issues of learning mathematics meaningfully, and managing the learning of others.

Overall, the degree aims to address what it is like to learn mathematics meaningfully, by addressing the future teacher’s own mathematical learning and their thinking about how to facilitate the mathematical learning of others.

According to student services, enrollment in this degree should attract students seeking a teacher-preparation degree with great emphasis placed on subject knowledge. 

“We used to see a number of students who were torn between getting a degree in education versus a degree in mathematics,” stated Tracey Hayes, assistant director of Student Services in School of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This degree provides the best of both worlds – leading to a better-prepared teaching force to meet the demands and expectations of secondary education and beyond.” 

Admission applications are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit or call 480-965-7195.