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Secondary math education program receives two-year designation

CW | Amy Sullivan

Patrick Smith

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The University of Alabama’s secondary math education program in the College of Education has received recognition from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The NCTM two-year designation asserts that the program is strong and improving in focusing on the preparation of future mathematics teachers.

“You know, you’re always examining your program and trying to improve it,” said Dr. Jeremy Zelkowski, director of UA’s secondary math education program. “So, what the NCTM does is they have the Specialized Professional Association, and what they do is have former teachers and others nationally who look specifically at your program area.”

The University’s math program has seven standards in which it has to demonstrate that more than 80% of its graduates has met. The program collects data of its students over the course of two years, then has seven assessments it has to provide and show evidence of. UA is the first institution in the state of Alabama to go through the new 2012 NCTM SPA standards. UA is the first to change from the 2003 standards. Auburn University is the only other school in the state to be nationally recognized.

Zelkowski hopes that the designation will help recruit more high school seniors and students already in an undergraduate program in a different major.

“When I first came here in 2008 I think we had 11 students graduating in that group that would be certified teachers that year,” Zelkowski said. “My goal was by 2020 to have 20 because you can’t just increase it dramatically, it doesn’t happen, so now you’ve got to recruit at high schools, you’ve got to convince students who are in other majors in the STEM disciplines to want to be teachers.”

Although the program is difficult and experiences attrition, Zelkowski wants to make sure they’re producing quality and not just quantity.

“You increase the quality of the program, students will come to it,” he said. “You’ve got to have that reputation to get them to come.”

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Secondary math education program receives two-year designation