Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher in New Mexico

New Mexico is historically one of the most important places for the development of nuclear technology, which in the mid-20th century made it a hotbed for scientists and mathematicians from throughout the free world. Today’s math teachers are ensuring that their important academic field is not relegated to the pages of history, but instead shared with the state’s future leaders of key industries.

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Under the auspices of the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Professional Licensure Bureau is responsible for processing your application to become a math teacher. This is also the agency that will issue your license once you have completed the following steps:

Earn a Degree Preparing you to Teach Math in New Mexico
Complete the New Mexico Testing Requirements
Apply for a New Mexico Teaching License
Renew and Upgrade Your License



Step 1. Earn a Degree Preparing you to Teach Math in New Mexico

There are three basic educational routes to become eligible for a license to teach math in New Mexico:

  • Traditional Route: will involve completing a degree in the field of mathematics that includes an approved education program
  • Alternative Route: if you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you’ll complete an alternative education program
  • Out-of-State Route: if you have completed your math teacher education in a different state

Traditional Route

The traditional route is the path for aspiring math teachers who have not yet enrolled in an undergraduate program. As part of this degree program, you will start by taking courses to fulfill the requirements of your math major:

  • Calculus
  • Advanced algebra and geometry
  • Statistics and probability
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Trigonometry

As you near the completion of your math requirements, you will transition to the approved education program component of the degree, which is designed to provide you with the skills needed to become a math teacher in New Mexico. This program will be at least 24 semester hours, must include a student teaching segment, and will focus on pedagogy as well as education while developing skills such as:

  • Lesson planning
  • Teaching strategies
  • Curriculum development
  • Question-based problem solving
  • Teaching diverse students
  • Student teaching

Note that there are different types of educator programs tailored to the grade levels you intend to teach:

  • Middle school grades 5-9
  • Secondary grades 7-12

Alternative Route

If you are a candidate who already has at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of math but have not completed an education program, you will be interested in the alternative routes to certification. These involve completing a series of courses dealing with pedagogy followed by on-the-job training in the classroom. Options for alternative route programs involve:

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  • Attending at least 30 semester hours in a post-graduate mathematics education program
  • Earning a master’s degree in any field and 12 hours of graduate study in a mathematics education program
  • Doctoral degree in a mathematics field
  • 12-21 semester hours in a Public Education Department-approved alternative education program

Just like the traditional education programs, alternative programs are also offered separately for math teachers in middle or secondary schools.

Out-of-State Route

If you are a licensed teacher in a state other than New Mexico, you will generally be eligible for a New Mexico teaching license if the program you completed had similar requirements as those of New Mexico:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree in the field of math
  • Have a valid teaching license for your home state or Department of Defense school
  • Have completed a standard or alternative teacher preparation program
  • Have passed tests to obtain your license
  • Demonstrate that you have licensed teaching experience

If you are an experienced teacher with National Board Certification you are automatically eligible for licensure in New Mexico. Managed by the non-profit independent National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), National Board Certification signifies that you have completed the extensive process required to become certified in one of the following areas:



Step 2. Complete the New Mexico Testing Requirements

The math teacher certification requirements in New Mexico includes the passage of three tests developed by the state:

  • New Mexico Assessment of Basic Skills
  • New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency
  • Content Knowledge Assessment in Mathematics

New Mexico Assessment of Basic Skills

The New Mexico Assessment of Basic Skills will evaluate you to ensure you possess the foundational skills required of all successful teachers in the state. Questions from this exam cover the following topics:

  • Reading comprehension – 33%
  • Mathematics – 33%
  • Writing composition – 17%
  • Written communication – 17%

New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency

The New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency is the same test for candidates who want to become either a middle- or secondary-school math teacher. This exam evaluates you on what you have learned in terms of pedagogy and education, and draws questions from the following subject areas:

  • Assessment, the learning environment, and instruction – 33%
  • Student learning and development – 27%
  • Establishing and maintaining a professional environment – 20%
  • Extended response tasks – 10%
  • Restricted response tasks – 10%

Content Knowledge Assessment in Math

This exam is offered in two versions depending on the grades you intend to teach. This assessment will evaluate your knowledge in the specific area of mathematics to ensure you are qualified to teach the subject:

    • Patterns, functions, and algebraic relations – 25%
    • Problem solving, reasoning, number concepts, methodology, and mathematical history – 25%
    • Measurement and geometry – 17%
    • Numbers: theory, concepts, and systems – 17%
    • Statistics, probability, and data analysis – 16%


    • Algebraic relationships, patterns, and functions – 30%
    • Processes, number concepts, methods, and their mathematical development – 30%
    • Discrete mathematics, statistics, probability, and data analysis – 20%
    • Measurement and geometry – 20%



Step 3. Apply for a New Mexico Teaching License

Once you have reached this step you will be ready to submit a complete application packet to the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Professional Licensure Bureau on 300 Don Gaspar Avenue Room 101 in Santa Fe, zip code 87501-2786. This packet will include:

The time you will need to wait for your license from the date you submit a completed application varies according to the season. From October to April it can take 1-4 weeks, while from May to September it can take between 8-12 weeks.

Once you have received your teaching license you will have met all the requirements for math teacher jobs in New Mexico and you can start searching for employment on sites like New Mexico REAP.



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your License

The first license you receive will hold the rank of Level 1. There are three levels of New Mexico teaching licenses, whose corresponding annual salaries are:

  • Level 1 – less than three years of teaching experience; $30,000
  • Level 2 – 3-5 years of teaching experience; $40,000
  • Level 3 – 6 or more years of teaching experience plus a master’s degree or National Board Certification; $50,000

To advance your license to the next level you will need to complete a Professional Development Dossier (PDP). You must advance from a Level 1 to a Level 2 license within five years. You can submit a PDP as soon as you have been teaching at a level for three years. Additionally, to advance to a Level 2 License you will need to complete a teacher mentoring program where you will be supported and assessed by a team of your peers and superiors.

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Your first step towards creating a PDP is going to New Mexico’s Public Education Department’s website. The Educator Evaluation page has updated PDP requirements and guidelines that you can use as a reference while completing your PDP.

The PDP is a collection of significant pieces of evidence that demonstrates your development in key areas and construct an overall picture of your teaching strengths and where you can improve. You will complete three main strands as part of your PDP:

  • Strand A – Instruction
  • Strand B – Student Learning
  • Strand C – Professional Learning

An administrator at your school will complete two additional strands E and F, which will all be evaluated by two outside reviewers, one of whom will be a math teacher.

In addition to completing another PDP, to advance from a Level 2 License to a Level 3 you must achieve one of the following:

  • Master’s Degree, such as an M.Ed., MATL, or M.A.T.
  • National Board Certification in Mathematics: early adolescence or adolescence and young adult

Although having a master’s degree can make you eligible to advance your teaching license to a Level 3, you can begin preparing to earn a master’s degree at any time. This will ensure that New Mexico’s math teachers remain some of the most educated and qualified instructors in the nation.

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