Teachers of Mathematics

Teachers play an essential role in student learning, and it is important that all students have access to qualified and effective teachers (Darling-Hammond 2000). Such factors as teacher certification, years of teaching experience, and a degree in the subject taught vary widely across student demographic groups, and highly qualified teachers are less prevalent at schools with high-minority and high-poverty populations (Imazeki and Goe 2009; Rahman et al. 2017; Rice 2013). This section uses data from NAEP 2015 to report on the qualifications and experience of eighth grade mathematics teachers in U.S. public schools. Teachers of students participating in NAEP assessments responded to survey questions about their state certification, years of experience, and field of postsecondary education. A recent NCES report, Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers (Rahman et al. 2017), presents the data summarized herein.

In 2015, 90% of eighth grade students in public schools had a mathematics teacher with state certification (Table 1-6). Eighth grade students at high-minority-enrollment schools were less likely to be taught mathematics by certified mathematics teachers. In schools with high percentages of minority students (i.e., with a minority enrollment of 75% or more), 84% of mathematics teachers were certified in mathematics, compared with 92% of teachers at schools with less than 75% minority enrollment. The percentage of certified mathematics teachers also varied by eligibility for NSLP, with those students less likely to have a certified mathematics teacher (88%) compared with their non-eligible peers (92%).

Public school students in grade 8 who have teachers with state certification, more than 5 years of teaching experience, or a degree in mathematics, by student and school characteristics: 2015


a NAEP uses eligibility for the federal National School Lunch Program as a measure of socioeconomic status. The program is a federally assisted meal program that provides low-cost or free lunches to eligible students. It is often referred to as the free or reduced-price lunch program.


State teacher certification indicates that the teacher holds a regular or standard teaching certificate that is valid in the state in which he or she is currently teaching. Years of teaching experience include all years worked as an elementary or secondary school teacher. A degree in mathematics indicates that the teacher has an undergraduate or graduate major or minor in mathematics.


Rahman T, Fox MA, Ikoma S, and Gray L, Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers: Variations Across Student Subgroups, NCES 2017-056 (2017).

Science and Engineering Indicators

About 75% of all eighth graders had a mathematics teacher with more than 5 years of teaching experience in 2015, ranging from 69% of students in schools with high-minority enrollment to 78% of students in schools with low-minority enrollment. The percentage of the NSLP-eligible eighth graders who had a mathematics teacher with more than 5 years of teaching experience (73%) was lower than the percentage of non-eligible students (78%). In 2015, about 82% of all eighth graders had a teacher with a degree in mathematics, ranging from 79% of students at high-minority-enrollment schools and 84% of students at low-minority-enrollment schools.

The State Indicators data tool provides additional information about teachers at the state level.