Six students receiving their master’s degrees at spring commencement Saturday also will get the first Master Mathematics Teacher certifications earned at the University of Houston-Victoria.
"These teachers will become classroom leaders and improve student's test scores and understanding of mathematics," said Barba Patton, assistant professor of education and coordinator for the UHV program.
To get the certification, teachers completed 18 credit hours of coursework and passed an intensive state certification exam. Those credit hours also applied to a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Kristy Chappell, Juli Klinkerman, Jill Mowles, Ann Goodman, Cheryl Sedlacek and Meliss Eckhardt successfully completed the program.
"I thought it would help better my education and allow me to better help the kids," said Eckhardt, who teaches math to seventh- through 12th-graders in the Nordheim Independent School District. "I think it has helped me, and I think it's a great program."
During the six classes required for the certification, students learned how to diagnose student's abilities and assess their learning processes to teach in a way that is developmentally appropriate to each individual, Patton said.
"We talked about different ways to teach the kids and evaluate them," Eckhardt said.
Teachers also learned about working in groups and leadership roles in a classroom, along with covering content topics like algebra, geometry, probability, statistics and problem solving, Patton said.
On top of the classroom learning, teachers also got to share ideas with math colleagues.
Getting to discuss strategies and teaching methods with peers was one of the best parts of the program, Chappell said.
Teachers who complete the program can receive a $5,000 stipend each year to reward their efforts in certain districts, Patton said. The Texas Legislature created the certification and stipend in 2001 to help improve math scores on standardized state tests and increase students' overall understanding of math. School districts can get funding for the stipend from the state if the district has a score of "average" or lower on standardized tests, she said.
Only 13 locations in Texas are authorized to provide training for the certification, according to the State Board of Education Web site. UHV is one of the only locations in the southern part of the state.
"A major part of our mission at this school is to produce educators who will improve the quality of learning wherever they may go," said John Stansell, dean of the School of Education & Human Development. "By equipping these teachers to impart the crucial skills of mathematics in a superior way, we are definitely fulfilling that mission."