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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU's Math Department Helps Middle School Teachers Get Certified

Helping New Mexico middle school teachers gain certification and a better knowledge of mathematics is what New Mexico State University's Department of Mathematical Sciences hopes to achieve by pursuing the Masters of Arts in Teaching Mathematics program, also known as MATM.


h a Master of Arts in Teaching degree has been available for many years, the new MATM program was created in 2003 to help middle school teachers from all over New Mexico achieve certification standards mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

"One way to achieve certification was by obtaining a master's degree with significant mathematics content," said David Finston, professor and former head of the mathematics department. "The problem was that middle school teachers did not have nearly enough mathematics background to enroll in any of our existing graduate math courses."

The math department committed itself to creating new courses designed for the master's program, all of which had to be distance education courses to serve teachers from all over the state. Although certification was the program's main purpose, it also serves to increase math knowledge for New Mexico teachers.

"Beyond getting teachers certified," math professor Pat Morandi said, "we want to help teachers gain more math knowledge."

Associate Professor Bruce Olberding explained the need for more math proficiency in New Mexico.

"The state of New Mexico has ranked lower than we'd like in a number of categories in education, so there is much work that needs to be done," Olberding said. "Through the MATM program we have the opportunity to work with a lot of very devoted, talented middle school teachers on the problem of raising mathematics proficiency throughout the state."

In the summers of 2004 and 2005, courses have been offered in various locations throughout the state to in-service middle school teachers, Finston said. These "academies" carry graduate mathematics credit and serve to enhance teachers' mathematics content knowledge of actual middle school course materials.

These courses, which form a part of the MATM program, have been taught in Las Cruces, Carlsbad, El Rito, Ruidoso and Farmington.