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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 11 2012


The Praxis II in Math Content (0061) is finally behind me.  I received notice that I had passed with ROE!  That actually startled me.  I was relieved and happy and even somewhat proud, but the reaction I received from other TFAers about the Praxis Exam was along the lines of “Good job! We knew you would pass all along; the Praxis is just a formality.  A way the ETS gets paid”.  Then I thought about it more…

The fact that I had not even looked at a matrix, integration problem, or even a triangle since junior or senior year of high school and still passed within the top 15% of test-takers is not indicative (in my honest opinion) of my intelligence or math knowledge or even how hard I studied for the exam (I took a three practice tests from the Cliff Notes book, scored a 68% on the first, 68% on the second, and 80% on the third. I also bought and used the tests on

It is indicative, however, of the low standards that are in place for the majority of math teachers in the United States.  The bar for knowledge of the subject should be moving higher as years go by, but that is not what I see happening.  The STEM initiative is something that was brought to bring math and science to the forefront of the American educational reform movement in order to position our students to compete on a global scale.  Currently, our students rank among the lower tiers of math and science proficiency by international standards.  Should not a part of that  underperformance be attributed to the fact that teachers can store as low as probably a 50% raw score on the Praxis II (0061) and still pass and become a math teacher?  I will know more when my score report becomes available in a couple of days.  But I cannot help but feel that although I scored with distinction, the raw percentage score on that exam that indicates my true proficiency with math will not meet conventional methods of understanding a subject deeply.  I sincerely hope that I will be proven wrong though.


One Response

  1. Ms. Math

    I research secondary mathematics teachers and calculus students understandings of rate of change and division…. you don’t even want to know.

    Math teachers are also products of a broken math education system. Many I’ve worked with have the same problematic meanings that are often reported in research on high school students.

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