The problems of professional standards for mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education in a competency - Based approach

Abstract. The Vietnamese 2007 Professional Standards for Primary school teachers and 2009 Professional Standards for Secondary school teachers are only for teachers in general, not for subject teachers in particular. Our study aims to specify the Professional Standards for Mathematics teachers. This is the basis for the development of teacher education and training programs, as well as the assessment of the professional growth of the teacher. In this article, we present a number of problems in the scientific basis and developing suggestions of professional standards for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education. On that ground, we propose the framework of professional standards for Mathematics teachers and recommendations on the usage of framework in teaching Mathematics in general education.

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HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1075.2017-0125 Educational Sci., 2017, Vol. 62, Iss. 6, pp. 28-36 This paper is available online at THE PROBLEMS OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS FOR MATHEMATICS TEACHERS IN VIETNAM’S GENERAL EDUCATION IN A COMPETENCY - BASED APPROACH Vu Quoc Chung1, Pham Thi Dieu Thuy2 1Hanoi National University of Education, 2Hanoi Pedagogical University No 2 Abstract. The Vietnamese 2007 Professional Standards for Primary school teachers and 2009 Professional Standards for Secondary school teachers are only for teachers in general, not for subject teachers in particular. Our study aims to specify the Professional Standards for Mathematics teachers. This is the basis for the development of teacher education and training programs, as well as the assessment of the professional growth of the teacher. In this article, we present a number of problems in the scientific basis and developing suggestions of professional standards for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education. On that ground, we propose the framework of professional standards for Mathematics teachers and recommendations on the usage of framework in teaching Mathematics in general education. Keywords: Standards, professional standards for Mathematics teachers, competencies, competency-based approach. 1. Introduction Professional standards for teachers are one of the major focuses of research and practice in the professional development of teachers. Professional standards are defined as the basis for designing programs and organizing teacher training in pedagogical universities and colleges. - Professional standards for beginning teachers are mentioned in the studies [11, 15, 21]. - The process of professional development in different stages is the subject of research in many countries [12, 13, 17]. - The utilization of Key Teachers has been researched and applied in many countries [18, 20]. - Online teacher training programs/courses in many countries as the way to foster continuous professional development for teachers [14, 16, 19]. Professional standard (PS) is one of the most important aspects of the professional activities, and the assessment scale of the career growth in the future. Therefore, professional standard in education is of utmost importance because the outcomes of education are human competencies and qualities. With its distinct characteristics of an accurate and abstract subject, Mathematics clearly Received date: 25/3/2017. Published date: 17/6/2017. Contact: Vu Quoc Chung, e-mail: vqchung@gmail.com 28 The problems of professional standards for mathematics teachers in vietnam’s general education... distinguishes itself from other subjects. Hence, the PS for Mathematics teachers should show the particular standards and characteristics of the subject. Professional standards for Primary school teachers were issued in 2007 and Professional standards for secondary school teachers were issued in 2009. However, these are only the general standards for teachers, not standards for specialized subject teachers. From 2016 up to now, MOET is making progress to complete the aforementioned two standards that are still general standards for teachers, and there are no professional standards for mathematics teachers. The summary report of the Department of Teachers and Education management Staff in 2015 indicated the inadequacies of current standards in assessing the professional competencies of subject teachers, including mathematics teachers. Therefore, it is necessary to identify, and establish the professional standards for mathematics teacher. 2. Content 2.1. Some essential content of professional standards for Mathematics teachers 2.1.1. Analysis of the scientific basis The PS for Mathematics teachers in general education are the system of essential requirements for teachers on qualities, ethics, lifestyle, professional competencies. The theoretical and practical basis of PS is established upon the following 3 foundations: 1) Structure of professional competencies (PC); 2) Requirement of society on the abilities to meet the professional demands; 3) Science of measurement and assessment for education; The content components of the PC is the basis for the development of standards and criteria of the PS, and vice versa, in which PS is the benchmark for assessment of PC’ development. There are different approaches and definitions regarding PC, PS, Diagram 1 illustrates their relationship within the context of the study. In Diagram 1, specific contents of the components of the PC and the specific contents of standards/criteria of the PS for mathematics teachers, the appropriate subject content of mathematics need to be included because it demonstrates the need to develop professional competence with mathematical features. For example, the mathematics instructional approach for teaching learners to be self-directed will be specifically identified as the criteria of the standard for mathematics teaching skills. The structure of PC identifies the content of PS, in which PS is assessment scale of development levels for PC. For example: the competency of developing curriculum for teaching Mathematics in general education is a component of Mathematics PC. For that reason, the PS for Mathematics teachers should have the indicators of curriculum development at different levels. The structure of PC is also the basis for the structure of PS in general. Hence, building the PS based on the structure of PC will also result in the PS with a competency - based approach. However, there is still a great challenge of what we can and should choose to establish the PS from the content of PC structure. The requirements of society on the abilities to meet professional demands are exhibited most intensively in the educational outcome standards at general education schools. Therefore, the competency standards (CS) for Mathematics of students are the prerequisite of PS for Mathematics teacher because the content and structure of these CS would correspondingly be the foundation 29 Vu Quoc Chung, Pham Thi Dieu Thuy Diagram 1. for selecting the components of the PS and developing the PS for Mathematics teachers. The post-2015 general education curriculum proposed 6 developable competencies via Mathematics as: Logical reasoning, Solving Mathematical problems, Mathematical modeling, Mathematical communication, Calculation, Utilization of the means of IT and communication; in which the three core competencies of Mathematics were: Logical reasoning, Calculation, and Solving Mathematical problems. The distinctive and core competencies of student in learning Mathematics are the basis for developing the PC for Mathematics teachers, and thus create the foundation for PS. In essence, standards are the tools for assessment/evaluation, so the PS would be the assessment tool for the levels of PC. The professional activities of teachers are the educational activities; therefore, they are subjects to impact of rules of science for educational assessment. The normal structure of standards includes the following components: standards, criteria, level, and indicator. The structure of standards shows the logic of the assessment for educational activities. The selection for the content of the PS’s components has to satisfy the logic of both the assessment of educational activities and Mathematics teaching activities. On that ground, the science of assessment for educational activities is the basis for selecting the content suitable with the components of the PS for Mathematics teachers. 2.1.2. Some development suggestions for the professional standards for Mathematics teachers The PS for Mathematics teachers begins from the CS for Mathematics of students The CS for Mathematics of general education students is both the foundation and 30 The problems of professional standards for mathematics teachers in vietnam’s general education... prerequisite of the PS for teachers, because of in order to “train” a specific mathematical competency for a student; the teacher should have a compatible competency of Mathematics education. For instance, a teacher has to be thoroughly understanding of logical reasoning and acquire the skill of logical thinking development for students by teaching Mathematics so that he can form the logical thinking competency in his students. That is to say, all the core and distinct skills of Mathematics for students are the most significant basis to identify the components of the PC for Mathematics teachers. According to Ho Ngoc Dai, “the focal point of the whole education focus is the student”, and “at school, students are the centre of attention, and teachers play the decisive role” [2] means that the qualities and competencies of the teachers are inextricably linked to that of their students; life of each teacher reflects in the growth and maturity of each student. The professional standards for Mathematics teachers to meet the need of the post-2015 innovation for Mathematics education The professional standards for teachers are the basis for training and professional development of teachers to meet the new requirements of education. Features in innovative policies of training and professional development of teachers are: teachers change from the traditional teaching methods for knowledge transfer into to teaching students learning methods, self-learning. In 2001 the US published the genome map, proving that all children are born with 99.9% of the same genes [22]. When they mature, however, all individuals will become different and unique from one another. This confirms the monumental role of education and self-education. Therefore, the requirement of a successful auto didacticism is the essential standard of the structure for PC of teachers. Through self-education, combining with the guidance and organization of teachers, students will have opportunities to form and develop their competencies and qualities. According to Tran Kieu, the post-2015 general education curriculum for Mathematics should emphasized on developing the following competencies of Mathematics for students [7]: Logical thinking, Problem solving, Mathematical modeling, Calculation, Utilization of means of IT and communication, Mathematical communication, of which three distinct and core competencies of Mathematics education are: - Calculation; - Logical thinking; - Solving mathematical problems. These three competencies will contribute to identify the competency framework for Mathematics teachers in general education schools which means the PS for Mathematics teachers have to include the competencies, qualities that help create three aforementioned competencies of Mathematics for students. The particular requirement in post-2015 general education reform for Mathematics is that students can not only understand the knowledge but also be able to form the practical skills, apply knowledge of Mathematics in daily life situations; through which students will develop the qualities and competencies. The PS for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam have to in line with the international trends Many countries have PS for Mathematics teachers which are extremely varied in terms of structure and content. Nonetheless, most of the PS shares some particularly common features, despite the differences in standards, criteria, and levels. 31 Vu Quoc Chung, Pham Thi Dieu Thuy According to the PS for Mathematics teachers in U.S (2015) [5] and Southeast Asia (2013) [8], the PS for teachers in Germany (2008) [9], Russia (2015) [10], Australia [1], UK (2013) [6], it can be seen that aside from the common ground in structure of content or professional fields, there is also the similarity in the following aspects: - Standards for the subject’s professional knowledge; - Standards for educational and teaching activities, emphasizing the understanding of students and students’ learning; - Standards for life-long learning to develop PC; - Standards for commitment of responsibilities with students and community in education. The in-depth analysis of the PS for Mathematics teacher of the US and Southeast Asia was provided as follows: Based on the international experience in the development of PS, the PS for mathematics teachers of Southeast Asia has demonstrated the distinctive features of countries in Southeast Asia, specifically the Southeast Asia Regional Standards for Mathematics Teachers (SEARS-MT) that have 4 Dimensions, 16 Standards, and 58 Indicators with specific Local Descriptors. - The Indicators and their Local Descriptors: 1) Be easy to identify, observe, assess, and control; 2) Have typical characteristics of teaching Mathematics; 3) Be directly connected to and dictate the quality – effectiveness of teaching Mathematics; 4) Reflect the distinctive characteristics of Mathematics which impact on the personal development of students and their daily life (logical thinking, problem solving); 5) Focus on the formation and development of competencies for Mathematics in particular and for citizenship of Southeast Asian region in general; 6) Emphasize the role and responsibility of Mathematics teachers with the professional community. - Has paid attention to the core standards of the cultural diversity of the PS of the countries in Southeast Asia; - Special emphasis on the characteristics of personality of teachers in general and Mathematics teachers in particular: 1) Enthusiasm for the job and students; 2) Responsibility with colleagues, parents, community, and related parties; 3) Trust in the success of each student in learning Mathematics; 4) Commitment to the success of each student in learning Mathematics; 5) Commitment to life-long learning for the professional development. For the PS for Mathematics teachers in the US, the in-depth analysis of the 10 standards, similar to SEARS-MT, shows the typical characteristics of teaching mathematics activities through the indicators. That is to say, the professional practicality is deeply connected to the development of Science and Technology, particularly when the use of IT as popular and effective in teaching Mathematics. The professional development standards for Mathematics teachers in the US have distinctive features: 1) Respect and accept the diversity in the application of strategies for teaching mathematics, 32 The problems of professional standards for mathematics teachers in vietnam’s general education... capitalizing and maximizing the creativity of teachers; 2) Focus on the knowledge and approach for Mathematics of students with the factors of environment that affect their Mathematics learning process; 3) Encourage teachers to investigate the relationships between the nature of Mathematics and cultural factors that influence the Mathematics teaching process, and in conjunction with the teaching community to identify the culture of quality in education for Mathematics. The common features and distinct characteristics of Mathematics teachers’ PS of the aforementioned countries and regions will be applied in the developing suggestion for the Mathematics teachers’ PS in Vietnam. 2.1.3. The overall experience on the use of the PS for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam and the recommendation for the framework of standards There are currently the PS for early childhood education, primary education, and secondary education teachers. The PS for early childhood education and primary education teachers has 3 dimensions: knowledge, skill, and attitude; the PS for secondary education teachers have 6 standards and 25 criteria; all of which are applied for teachers of every subject at every corresponding level of education. This created the great difficulty in the application of standards for teacher professional development: - Difficulty in the assessment for the PC of teachers, especially subject teachers; - The partiality and inaccuracy of assessment due to the lack of quantifiable or distinctive standards; - Lack of basis of development for standards training and professional development curriculum/program; - Lack of motivation for teacher professional development; The National Symposium of Mathematics Education in general education (2011) saw many contents related to the PC, PC standards for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education. More than 300 delegates from central management agencies, universities and colleges, research institutes, schools, discussed 4 fundamental problems related to Mathematics teaching and learning at general education schools. Nguyen Chien (Vinh University) and many other delegates [3] mentioned the components of PS for Mathematics teachers, and proposed a number of methods for training the professional skills of Mathematics teachers. In 2014, the MOET held the first Symposium on the Professional development for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education. The Symposium mentioned the issues related to the PC of Mathematics teachers in Vietnam’s general education [3]. The Symposium participants exchanged ideas and discussed, analyzed the specific contents of theory and practice in the training and professional development for teachers and the PS for Mathematics teachers in a competency-based approach. The above circumstances affirm the urgent need for the standalone PS for Mathematics teachers in general education schools. Based on the overall analysis of the theory and practice in Vietnam and other countries on the PS for Mathematics teachers, we have identified some essential requirements of the PS for Mathematics teachers as follows: 1) The PS for Mathematics teachers have to show the essential and mandatory requirements of Mathematics education for each teacher. 33 Vu Quoc Chung, Pham Thi Dieu Thuy 2) The standards and criteria have to describe clearly and fully the educational activities for Mathematics that directly influence the success of Mathematics learning for students, and reflect the continuous growth in the PC of teachers. 3) The PS have to be shown through a system of criteria with extremely detailed/specific indicators and descriptors, so that teachers can and will be able to apply, assess their own development of PC. 4) The PS should not only reflect the mandatory requirements of essential PC for teachers, but also the requirements of future PC development for teachers. 5) The structure of PS for Mathematics teachers in a competency-based approach have standards, criteria, levels and indicators which are not necessarily divided into different dimensions. However, these components have to fully encompass the contents in the related dimensions of Mathematics educational activities. 6) The PS learns from the suitable features of Mathematics educational activities from the PS for Mathematics teachers in Southeast Asia and the US to develop the PS for Mathematics teachers in Vietnam, in order to prepare to the integration of Vietnam’s education with the regional and international education. Based from the above suggestions and specifically identified requirements, we propose the following framework of standards for Mathematics teachers: *) 4 dimensions: 1) Knowledge of Mathematics and the Cognitive pathways for Mathematics; 2) Knowledge of students and their learning activities of Mathematics; 3) Teaching activities of Mathematics; 4) Professional development and communication in community of Mathematics. *) Each dimension can be further compartmentalized into suitable standards, each standard is illustrated by a number of indicators, and each indicator has different levels which are measureable qualitatively and quantitatively. *) Three core competencies of Mathematics education: Logical thinking, Calculation, and Problem solving are shown in the standa