The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education today approved a new degree in mathematics for elementary education that Worcester State University will offer beginning in the fall of 2014.
The new degree, the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics for Elementary Education 1 – 6 , is unavailable at any other public higher education institution in the Commonwealth. Aspiring teachers will have the option of earning dual degrees in elementary education and mathematics for elementary education, both of which can be completed in four years.
The mathematics for elementary education degree, housed in the mathematics department, brings Worcester State University’s total undergraduate majors offered to 26. Through the education Department, Worcester State offers undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs for every level, from early childhood through secondary.
“Worcester State University’s new degree will better prepare elementary teachers to teach math. It will meet a need that teachers themselves, as well as policy makers, have identified,” says President Barry M. Maloney.
“This program represents the best in partnerships. First, two of our finest academic departments—mathematics and education—partnered from the very beginning to design cutting-edge curriculum for today’s elementary teaching majors and tomorrow’s elementary teachers and students,” says former Provost Charles Cullum. “Second, this program represents the partnering that we are always doing with school teachers and administrators in our region. They told us about their needs at the elementary level, and we responded. We are looking forward to the continuing success of this partnership.”
“This new degree is WSU’s response to state and national reports that call for deeper understanding of mathematics among prospective elementary teachers,” says Associate Dean of Education Raynold Lewis. “It also represents years of interdisciplinary cooperation between the mathematics and education departments, as they have worked collaboratively to address those needs through curriculum review, content analysis and pedagogy.”
Mary Fowler, chair of the Mathematics Department, says, “From common denominators to science fairs, elementary school teachers need to provide their students with a strong foundation in mathematics. That foundation ensures they have the skills they need to progress and, eventually, to enter the STEM workforce.”
The new Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) initiative (a consortium of 17 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have called for a better mathematically prepared citizenry.
According to Lewis, elementary education will benefit by having more teachers who have a deeper understanding of mathematics. Worcester State’s new major requires students to take a number of mathematics courses, as well elementary education courses, including student teaching.
For students opting to major in elementary education, the new degree could be completed as a second major. In this instance aspiring teachers would enroll in the mathematics for elementary education 1-6 major, which consists of the three math courses that all elementary education majors are required to take and seven additional math classes chosen to address the needs of the elementary classroom such as number theory in order to support a deep understanding of numeration and math modeling, which includes the mathematical formation of problems from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.
The major received approval from the WSU’s Mathematics and Education Departments, governance committees and Board of Trustees, and was reviewed by outside evaluators and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Academic Affairs Committee prior to the vote today by the Board of Higher Education.
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