I'm teaching a class called "Math for Elementary Teachers." The main goal of the course is to prepare the prospective teachers for an exam that I believe is called "Praxis" (some sort of standardized math test that people who want to teach elementary education have to take). I'm teaching in the state of Iowa if that matters.

The course uses the book: Mathematical Reasoning for Elementary Teachers - Media Update 7th Edition by Calvin Long (Author), Duane DeTemple (Author), Richard Millman (Author)

In two semesters of the class, we are scheduled to cover every section of the above book. Does anyone know enough about this incoming standardized test and this textbook to know if this an effective way to prepare them? Thank you.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A way to get shorter amazon.com URL's is to remove all the clutter after amazon's book code (a roughly 12-character number-string, sometimes followed by a letter, often 'X'), then remove the book's title from the URL (and make sure what's left doesn't have two forward slashes // together after the beginning). Doing that to your URL gives httPs://www.amazon.com/dp/013475882X. (I used 'P' instead of 'p' to keep some kind of auto-hide feature here from applying.) To "hide" the URL with a clickable text, do this: [write within square brackets the text to be clicked on](put URL in parentheses). $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2021 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ More details on which praxis test your refer to are necessary. Unfortunately a teacher may need to take multiple Praxis tests. First are general knowledge "Core" tests; similar to the SAT or GRE. A second series of tests is to demonstrate necessary basic knowledge of the specific field they wish to teach in (similar to GRE subject matter tests). In math, there are several variants of this knowledge test, based on the level one will be teaching at (elementary, middle, or high school). Finally, there are Praxis "pedagogy" tests which are about teaching "best practices". $\endgroup$
    – Michael G
    Sep 13, 2021 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


This is not an answer, but I think it's too important to leave as a comment.

I strongly urge you to rethink your goals for this course.

Your goals should be to prepare your students to teach mathematics in elementary schools.

The Praxis test is a not terrible minimum measure of this ability, but, frankly, it's not that good a measure, and many people who pass the Praxis are still pretty terrible teachers of elementary school math, particularly if they have been taught to the test without really understanding what they are learning.

My impression is that half of US university students don't understand multiplication of integers, in the sense that they don't understand that if you repeat a process that takes m steps n times, you end up having to do m*n total steps. In many cases (and this is corroborated by what many elementary teachers say about themselves and each other), this is because they had 3rd and 4th grade teachers who don't understand this either. (Never mind addition of fractions. Basically no one understands that.)

Your job is to help stop this cycle of ignorance, not prepare people for a standardized test.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Thanks! I needed to hear this $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2021 at 20:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I agree wholeheartedly. The premise of class for this audience whose goal is to "teach to the test" is awkward and misguided! $\endgroup$
    – user52817
    Sep 11, 2021 at 20:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, my answer was based on the assumption of what the OP said about the main goal of the course, which led me to believe this was some kind of department "Praxis preparation" course and thus not a course with which the OP has much flexibility in what/how to teach. However, in thinking about this now, 2 semesters seems like an awful lot of time for something like this (a 1-2 semester credit hour class makes more sense), plus the name of the course suggests it's essentially what I taught 1-3 sections of each of 6 semesters in the mid 1990s (which didn't even mention Praxis). $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2021 at 22:47
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I realized I have one more important comment: If you are an inexperienced instructor, not a former elementary or middle school teacher, your research is not in elementary education, and no really unusual emergency staffing situation is happening, then shame on your department for assigning you this course. It's a very hard course to teach well, and it's not your fault if you're not prepared to do a good job. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2021 at 0:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This IS an answer. A good answer, and a frame challenge. +1! $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2021 at 18:02

The main goal of the course is to prepare the prospective teachers for an exam that I believe is called "Praxis"

I think the best thing would be to get a copy of a test prep book for the Praxis (the specific version that applies in your case), or the Praxis's "Official Guide" (perhaps named differently) and incorporate into your class as many questions from it as seems reasonable during the semester. By "incorporate into your class", I mean lecture examples, in-class small-groups work (if possible, given COVID issues), homework problems, short quiz and major test problems, etc.

I don't know anything about the book you cited, but any book that claims to help prepare students for the Praxis test should be fine as long as your mastery of the material is reasonably good and you have a good supply of Praxis-like problems to use.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.