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Purdue Fort Wayne program named among the best for preparing future elementary educators to teach math

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program at Purdue University Fort Wayne 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. This is according to the National Council on Teacher Quality, a research and policy organization that regularly evaluates the core requirements and practices of over 1,100 programs that prepare future elementary teachers. 

A new report released by the NCTQ this morning revealed the program at Purdue Fort Wayne had earned an A+ designation for its requirements in elementary mathematics, and was one of only 79 in the nation to achieve the distinction "exemplar."

In December, Purdue Fort Wayne became the first university to receive the new Elementary STEM endorsement from the Indiana State Board of Education. This licensure certifies specialist expertise in teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“These findings are a reflection of the hard work of the faculty in elementary math and science education who helped us establish our new elementary STEM licensure program,” said Isabel Nuñez, director of the School of Education at Purdue Fort Wayne. “We are encouraged that our efforts are being validated by these external sources.” 

During its most recent review cycle, NCTQ assessed 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. According to its report, PFW stands apart by meeting 100% of the instructional goals across each of the elementary mathematics topic areas.

Research studies have found that elementary math skills are a strong predictor of whether a student will graduate from high school. Recent data indicate students in many states have lost more learning in math than in reading over the past two years. Pre-existing gaps in math achievement have also 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,” said 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. Purdue University Fort Wayne 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 PFW earned this top score, all scores for elementary teacher preparation programs in Indiana, and the full national findings at nctq.org/review/Elementary-Mathematics-2022.

For information on the elementary STEM licensure program at PFW, contact Matthew Perkins Coppola at: [email protected]

Media are also invited to contact Nuñez at [email protected] or 260-481-6450 to learn more.