The 2018 NSSM+ Report: Implications for Future Research


The 2020 Research Committee has examined the 2018 report on the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (NSSME+) (Banilower et al., 2018) as well as the webinar provided to the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators’ (AMTE) members (Malzahn, 2020). The report describes results from a nationally representative survey of 7,600 mathematics, science, and computer science teachers in schools across the U.S. The webinar explicitly focused on findings related to the current status of novice mathematics teachers. The findings suggest future research directions for AMTE members. In this article, the Research Committee proposes a set of research questions that AMTE members might consider related to professional development, induction, and teacher preparation.

Professional Development

The report indicates that most mathematics teachers reported 35 hours or less of PD over the past 2 years. Prior research suggests that more professional development is needed to have an impact. Yet, there is a tension between what teachers have time to do and features of high-quality professional development. This leads to two sets of questions. One set focuses on what can be done well in a short amount of time. The second set focuses on factors that mediate teachers’ participation in professional development (i.e., what could be done to impact teachers’ willingness/availability to participate in more professional development)

  • Designing high-quality professional development that fits the realities of time available for participation
    • How do we design more impactful professional development given this reality?
    • What is reasonable for teachers to learn or do in such limited professional development?
  • Understanding factors that mediate teachers’ participation in professional development
    • What challenges do teacher educators currently encounter when developing professional development programs for teachers?
    • What might an ideal professional development program look like so that teachers would be interested in participating in it?
    • What do professional development organizations need to do to draw teachers in?
    • What challenges exist for teachers in actually attending professional development?
    • How do successful professional development projects frame their work to teachers/administrators to get buy-in from participants?


The report indicates that many novice teachers reported participating in an induction program. As a field, we need to know more about the features of these induction programs and their imports. Specific questions include:

  • What are the features of these induction programs? 
  • What are the impacts of these features on novice teachers’ perceptions of their own teaching abilities?
  • What are the impacts of these features on novice teachers’ practice?
  • What are the impacts of these features on retention? 

Teacher Preparation

The report suggests that the efforts of teacher preparation programs appear to have little impact on the beliefs and practices of novice teachers (and practicing teachers). For example, many practicing teachers report they believe that the teaching of mathematics vocabulary should be front-loaded (82% of elementary mathematics teachers, 78% of middle school mathematics teachers, 78% of high school mathematics teachers). The report suggests that lower than expected numbers of practicing teachers report using “reform” strategies. In other cases, teachers report carrying out reform strategies, but there is limited insight into what they understand those strategies to mean and what they look like when they are carried out. For example, 95% of elementary teachers, 91% of middle school teachers, and 84% of high school teachers report that they engage students in a whole class mathematics discussion at least once a week. But this raises the question of whether there is a shared definition of the features of the discussion. Further, novice teachers report feeling under-prepared for particular work (e.g., finding out what students know). Specific questions are:

  • What are the mediating factors that shape how our novice teachers take the work done in teacher preparation into the field (in student teaching and in their first years of teaching)? 
  • How do we create more impactful teacher preparation programs? What do we already know about the features of programs that impact preservice teachers’ practice? 
  • Few high school mathematics teachers report feeling well prepared to teach geometry, modeling, statistics and probability, discrete mathematics, and computer science/programming. Mathematicians and computer scientists typically teach courses on geometry, modeling, statistics and probability, discrete mathematics, and computer science/programming to preservice teachers. What could we learn from instances where novice teachers do feel well prepared to teach these subjects? What are the features of geometry, modeling, statistics and probability, discrete mathematics, and computer science/programming courses that result in novice teachers feeling prepared?  Who teaches these courses? How can being supported to teach about the social and political world, to make real-world connections, and engage students in collaborative learning enhance these teachers’ sense of preparation? (e.g., See the new book High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice).
  • Only 13-17% of teachers feel prepared to incorporate students’ cultural knowledge into instruction. What is the quality of their work when they incorporate students’ cultural knowledge into instruction?  What experiences equipped these teachers to be able to do this work? How can teacher education programs better support science and mathematics teachers to use their students’ culture as the basis for learning? How can exposure to frameworks and practices of culturally sustaining pedagogy, ethnomathematics, and rehumanizing mathematics inform teachers’ sense of preparation? (e.g., See NCTM’s annual perspectives Rehumanizing Mathematics for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx Students).
  • NCTM has set forward a particular set of expectations for the preparation of mathematics teachers. Through licensure requirements, states set forth a set of expectations as well. How well do these expectations intersect? What are the implications of teacher licensure requirements for the credentials that teachers pursue?


Banilower, E. R., Smith, P. S., Malzahn, K. A., Plumley, C. L., Gordon, E. M., & Hayes, M. L. (2018). Report of the 2018 NSSME+. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.

Malzahan, K. (2020). The Current Status of Novice Mathematics Teachers: findings from the 2018 NSSME+.

2020 AMTE Research Committee

Meghan Shaughnessy, University of Michigan, Associate Vice President for Research

Winnie Ko, Indiana State University

Chandra Orrill, University of Massachusett Dartmouth

Melissa Boston, Duquesne University

Leslie Dietiker, Boston University

Mary Candace Raygoza, St. Mary’s College of California