Secondary mathematics teachers' beliefs regarding their preparation to teach upper -level mathematics
New mathematics teachers may be considered for positions to teach upper-level mathematics courses. Whether or not they are prepared to do so will likely depend upon their pre-service experience. Veteran teachers without experience teaching upper-level mathematics may also be asked to teach this unfamiliar material. Teacher preparation and professional development in-service programs hold the potential for meeting the unique needs of mathematics teachers placed into these positions. This study sought to identify the needs of secondary mathematics teachers specifically in the area of upper-level mathematics preparation at the pre-service and in-service levels. A quantitative survey of 240 teachers and qualitative follow-up with sixteen teachers from three public school systems in Maryland focused on individual teacher preparation and experience. It was concluded that a significant number of mathematics teachers do not feel they were initially prepared to teach upper-level mathematics, and that veteran teachers without prior teaching experience in upper-level mathematics are unlikely to be prepared to teach these courses. In terms of content, mathematics teachers were divided regarding the amount of theoretical mathematics that is important in their training. Some firmly believe that mathematics teachers do not need to take more courses while others strongly disagree. Overall, teachers who maintain that they have a firm understanding of the secondary mathematics sequence believe that they are better prepared to teach upper-level mathematics. Specific components of mathematics education training valued by the majority of the surveyed teachers included pre-service mathematics and professional development workshops. The research also indicated that teachers who receive strong support and assistance from their colleagues are able to more successfully make the necessary transitions. Although teacher opinions regarding preparation are subjective, it is important to gather information from current teachers to learn what they perceive to be effective preparation techniques. It is also important to identify lapses in communication that exist within the mathematics education community. Teachers need to communicate their needs and expectations in order to help administrators and university faculty plan effective programs.