## An Investigation of Teachers' Beliefs of Students' Algebra Development

**Abstract**

Elementary, middle, and high school mathematics teachers (N = 105) ranked a set of mathematics problems based on expectations of their relative problem-solving difficulty. Teachers also rated their levels of agreement to a variety of reform-based statements on teaching and learning mathematics. Analyses suggest that teachers hold a symbol-precedence view of student mathematical development, wherein arithmetic reasoning strictly precedes algebraic reasoning, and symbolic problem-solving develops prior to verbal reasoning. High school teachers were most likely to hold the symbol-precedence view and made the poorest predictions of students' performances, whereas middle school teachers' predictions were most accurate. The discord between teachers' reform-based beliefs and their instructional decisions appears to be influenced by textbook organization, which institutionalizes the symbol-precedence view. Because of their extensive content training, high school teachers may be particularly susceptible to an expert blindspot, whereby they overestimate the accessibility of symbol-based representations and procedures for students' learning introductory algebra.