W.Va. schools dealing with shortage of math teachers

By Matt Maccaro in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Mountain State has a significant shortage of math teachers, according to State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano.

Martirano said on MetroNews “Talkline” last week that the state wants only the best math teachers to teach in a specific way.

“We are having higher standards; there’s an expectation of how we teach math to be more focused regarding problem solving, the application of the concepts, it’s just beyond rote memorization,” he explained. “It’s called number sense. We want young people to be able to apply that knowledge to solve problems.”

Martirano said that there’s a high number of vacancies in West Virginia as school gets underway for 2016-17, and last year there was 64 math vacancies across the state.

“If I don’t have quality teachers that are fully certified delivering the curriculum at the highest level, our young people are going to suffer across the board,” Martirano said. “The same thing at the elementary level, where that focus needs to be in terms of numeracy and literacy. I need to make certain elementary teachers are more equipped to teach numeracy as well as they are literacy.”

In order not to compromise on competency in arithmetic proficiency, Martirano said filling the vacancies would not be a quick fix.

“We’re looking at issues in terms of effort, in terms of teaching our teaching workforce overall, making sure our students are able to navigate properly with the numeracy aspects in the classroom, and making sure they can really solve the problems necessary. So there’s not just one silver bullet, there’s a lot of things in motion here.”

Results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment released last week showed that West Virginia students increased from 26 to 30 percent proficiency in math scores.