Math Single Subject CSET - History and Difficulty

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by willwill02, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. willwill02

    willwill02 Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Hey Folks,

    I was wondering what the history of the math CSET is. Is this a relatively new exam because of NCLB? Or, did all of my junior high and high school math teachers have to take an exam of this type? (I went to school in NYC.) For some reason, I highly doubt this, as a few of the teachers I remember could barely understand what they were teaching. Others, of course, were terrific, which is what I hope to be as a career changer math teacher.

    From reading all these forums, I feel a little discouraged at how difficult it is to pass the CSET math exams. (I believe I passed subtest II yesterday, but will have to study really hard again for I, and then again for III). Good thing I have some time to take these.
    Isn't there a shortage of math teachers, and isn't the U.S. far too behind compared to other countries?

    Although my last math class was probably about 8 years ago, I do know I'm a capable at math. Or, I was capable back in high school (I got a perfect math score on the SAT, 800, and over 750 on the math SAT II's). In college, I did fairly well on my math classes, never below a B+.

    But, I suppose having high standards is a good thing. But to have only...what is it..15-20% of people pass the math CSET? Is that too difficult? I wonder if there are people who attempt to become math teachers, but end up not teaching math because they can't pass. (Which, may or may not be a good thing. I'm sure many of you would feel that if you can't pass the CSET, you shouldn't be in the classroom.)
    For those who do pass, good career prospects!

    Anyhow, my basic question is: Where do you draw the line between high standards for teachers vs. trying to get more math teachers in this classroom?
     
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  3. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    CSET is fairly recent, but it is not the first subject matter test the State has used. Prior to CSET there was SSAT. It really has nothing to do with NCLB. NCLB just requires that teachers of core subjects prove subject matter competence. The State allows prospective teachers to prove subject matter comptence in different ways: complete a CTC approved subject matter program, pass CSET, or for have a certain number of units in the subject for subject matter and supplementary authorizations.

    CSET is not hard. It is little more than current high school math, AP math anyway. The problem is that there is a lot to review and come up to speed on for us non-math majors.

    CSET offers a way for a non-math major to get into teaching math without have to take a lot of math courses.

    Yes, the United States does not do well compared to many other countries on certain math tests. What that means in real life is the subject of considerable discussion. It seems that the typical student from those other countries are not what the top univerisities in this country are looking for. There is more to a good mathematician, scientist or engineer than the ability to manipulate numbers.

    There is a shortage of math and science teachers nation wide. Job prospects are good. Some districts actually recruit from foreign countries. I am not sure that this shortage is going to last. There are many programs aimed at reducing the shortage. And we are seeing people coming into teaching highschool math from a non-traditional source. More and more people are going into teaching as a second or third career. About have of my credential program cohort are career changers. All of the math candidates are, except one.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    According to the Commission for Teacher Credentialing, the cumulative pass rate among Foundational-level Math credential candidates from January 2003 to July 2005 was 36.5%; the cumulative pass rate for full-on Math credential candidates was 48.5% - and even the annual pass rate for Foundational-level Math was 29.2%, which is twice as good as the lower end of the "15-20%" range.

    The arguments for making CSET Math easier make no more sense to me than do the arguments for getting rid of the CBEST (which is happening, alas) and the arguments for making CSET-Multiple Subjects math easier (fortunately, not in prospect that I know of, yet, but who knows...)
     
  5. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    If they made CSET-MS math any easier, there wouldn't be any...

    They already made CSET-Math easier in a sense by coming with with a Foundational-level credential that only requires the first two subtests. And it appears that most districts are perfectly happy to hire you with that for even high school math because most of the classes are algebra and geometry. The only thing I can argue that is on CSET-Math that doesn't come into play when teaching highschool math is abstract algebra. And frankly, it can help you answer some of the "Why do they do it that way?" questions from brighter students.

    Remember, CSET-Math is designed to show that you have the equivalent knowledge of someone who went through a CTC approved subject matter program.

    Are there good teachers that wind up not teaching math because they cannot pass CSET? Probably, but only if the give up. They can always take math courses and get a supplementary or subject matter authorization.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Now, now, Malcolm: that's not just, or at least not entirely.

    I'll concede that the level of sophistication of the skills tested per se isn't very high - beginning algebra about tops it out, and the geometry skills are chiefly of the elementary-school variety. CSET-MS math questions do require, however, that the test taker be able to think flexibly and creatively in applying these skills in unexpected combinations - there's a neat little example of this in the informal proof of the Pythagorean theorem in the CSET-MS Subtest II sample item document.
     
  7. JDSalinger

    JDSalinger New Member

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    I majored in math, just took the CSET and passed. I think that qualifies me to say I think it is an unjustifiably difficult test. I disagree with Malcolm that it is just "high school math". Why is there a need to test understanding of polynomial rings, and field theory? And number theory? My test asked for a proof that the numbers making up an integer divisible by three sum to a number that is itself divisible by three. I was able to do that, but I fail to see how such knowledge makes one a better middle school math teacher. Yes, there were many good questions on the test. I think the test could be reduced in size by about 10 questions, and field/ring theory and number theory can be eliminated without any reduction in the effectiveness of math teachers who enter the ranks.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Congratulations, JDSalinger. Did you take all three subtests in one go?
     
  9. switzerok

    switzerok New Member

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    I think these topics are quite relevant. High school students study polynomials, and of course the field properties apply to the set of real numbers. Teachers should know the underlying principles for polynominals and real numbers. Same thing can be said for knowing about integers with the operations of addition and multiplication satisfying the properties of a ring. We don't want teachers to teach right to the edge of their own competency.

    CSET tests just a little on number theory. Divisibility is a topic in school mathematics and it seems to be that it's very CSET appropriate.
     
  10. nakdragon

    nakdragon New Member

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    Dec 7, 2010

    Does anyone know if Jay still have his booklet for sale? i tried emailing innovationguy but haven't gotten a reply.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010
  12. MacGuffin

    MacGuffin Companion

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    I would vote that the abstract algebra doesn't really belong. Maybe I am saying that because as a non-math major I never really understood it. I just basically memorized the stuff I knew would be on the CSET and hoped for the best. The rest of the material on all three tests I think is pretty well chosen and relevant. Granted the hardest part is thinking like the CSET. Once I learned how to do that I was able to pass all 3, even though in all honesty I consider myself far from an expert on some of the topics that were covered.
     
  13. nakdragon

    nakdragon New Member

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    i've tried his website. I haven't bought the product because i wanna make sure he is still selling. i also emailed him, but no reply....
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Hm. I'm not sure what to tell you, then.
     
  15. nakdragon

    nakdragon New Member

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    I'm taking the math cset subtest I in jan. and i am scared out of my mind. i live near riverside, ca and need some help. is there anything out there i could buy that would help me?
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I've sent you a private message, nakdragon.
     
  17. JDSalinger

    JDSalinger New Member

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    Edge of competency?

    Edge of their own competency? I work with engineers whose math ability far exceeds mine who would not know about rings or fields, nor would such knowledge enhance their capability as a middle school math teacher. Divisibility is indeed a topic in school mathematics. Proving number theorems is not necessarily an indication of the effectiveness of a middle school math teacher, sorry.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    CSETs are not and have never been intended to indicate the effectiveness of a teacher. The official line is that they're intended to establish subject knowledge.

    My hope is that anyone passing any CSET will experience that as a happy byproduct of a much more important process: getting reacquainted (or sometimes acquainted) with concepts and processes that drive a given academic discipline. I'm no mathematician, but I've sat in on CSET Math preparation, and the way ring and field theory ties things together is quite breathtaking and beautiful.
     
  19. Galois

    Galois Companion

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    [QUOTE=" I'm no mathematician, but I've sat in on CSET Math preparation, and the way ring and field theory ties things together is quite breathtaking and beautiful.[/QUOTE]

    Very accurate TeacherGroupie. My son is in 5th Grade and they use number theory a lot. I'm glad they included number theory. It's the foundation of math after all.
     
  20. k3nd0411

    k3nd0411 Rookie

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    Is there anything I could buy to prepare myself for the cset subtest I and II? Any help would be appreciated. Thank You.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    In addition to the OCDE prep guides, people whose judgment I trust have championed Schaum's Outlines for algebra and geometry and Barron's Geometry The Easy Way. There have been some other recommendations that I'm not now recalling, but if you search these forums for posts by Malcolm or innovationguy, you should find some other goodies.
     
  22. cviddy

    cviddy New Member

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    All three CSETs...

    I just took all three of the subtests on the Math CSET. I majored in Applied Math as an undergrad, which I finished 8 years ago. I'm hoping that I passed at least one, as the time pressure is not conducive for taking all three tests in one day.

    Taking Subtest II was first and mandatory. It seemed fairly straightforward, and had a lot less trig than I wanted. Of the three, it's the one I feel most confident in, though not by much.

    Subtest I was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, I forgot the skills required to do the division algorithm, and it hurt me for the multiple answer portion. Don't get me wrong, it seemed like the hardest of the three. If I take it again, it'll be fun.

    Subtest III felt surprisingly easy. Maybe it's the relative difficulty from Subset I. I cranked through a good majority of the problems, but I ran out of time by the end of it.
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    cviddy, welcome to A to Z.

    You're by no means the first person to report feeling that Subtest I is more challenging than Subtest III. In fact, that seems to be the majority reaction among people who know the material.

    Your other reactions make me suspect your hope is well-founded. Keep us posted, please.
     
  24. Galois

    Galois Companion

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    Your experience cviddy and others, who posted before in this forum, prove that unless you are fresh math major graduate, taking all three
    (3) subtests in one sitting is a tough act and that is an understatement.

    Knowing the algorithm to find the GCF helped me passed CSET 1. Hope you pass at least subtests 1 and 2.
     
  25. bdd

    bdd Rookie

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    Hey TeacherGroupie. Do you have any suggested study tips or resources that you prefer to share via private message? Can you share them with me too?
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Hang on: I have to figure out why I sent that private message.
     
  27. dolfnz

    dolfnz New Member

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    CSET 1 and 2


    I live in Riverside, CA were you able to find anything to assist you with passing the CSET 1 and 2?
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Welcome to A to Z, dolfnz. You might want to Google "csetguru". The guy whose Web domain that is lives out your way.
     
  29. innovationguy

    innovationguy Cohort

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    http://csetmathguru.weebly.com/

    Jay.
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I stand corrected: "csetmathguru".
     
  31. samk

    samk Rookie

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    If anyone is interested I have OCDE Math Subtest I (110) guides are available for sale @ a cheaper price.

    Send me a PM..thanks
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Do I understand correctly, I hope, samk, that congratulations are in order?
     
  33. tguinto2003

    tguinto2003 Rookie

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    Hi samk, do you still have the OCDE Math Subtest 1 please PM me. tnx
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Welcome to A to Z, tguinto2003.

    samk posted that offer almost eleven months ago and, as far as i can tell, hasn't surfaced since, so it's a safe bet that that OCDE Math Subtest I guide has already been claimed.

    Have you taken the subtest before, or will this be your first attempt?
     
  35. samk

    samk Rookie

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    CSET MATH Subtest 1 & 2

    I have both OCDE Math Subtests still available. Let me know asap, Thanks
     
  36. tguinto2003

    tguinto2003 Rookie

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    It will be my first attempt :eek:

     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Breathe, please. Have you studied much college-level math?
     
  38. arrow

    arrow New Member

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    Hi. I am in the process of getting my special edu credential. I would like to get a Foundation in Math, so I can teach higher functioning students. I would like to know how to get started because I haven't touched math in about ten years- college level.
     
  39. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Welcome to A to Z, arrow.

    If you were pretty good at math in college, I'd recommend looking over the subtest specifications and practice questions for Subtests I and I (which are what you'll need for the Foundational-level Math authorization), and then working through the appropriate math videos at Khan Academy (if it isn't www.khanacademy.org, try using .com instead, or Google it).
     
  40. notmyrealname

    notmyrealname Rookie

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    I would review as TG mentioned and then make sure to take a prep class over a weekend for each test. In my experience those couple hundred bucks that tell you what is and isn't on the test are so worth it!
     
  41. arrow

    arrow New Member

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    Greatly appreciate any help! Seems overwhelming.
     

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