Page A3 of your Wall Street Journal today has an article on a great event - the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is providing a $22.5 million grant to the National Math and Science Initiative to expand the UTeach program (an error in the article - the grant goes to NMSI, not directly to Uteach). Big NEWS!
Take action - get your university to apply to be a part of this grant through the UTeach RFP process!
A Texas-based program that encourages math and science majors to become math and science teachers is getting a $22.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the largest such donations of its kind.
The grant will go to UTeach, which enables math and science majors to augment their degree in these fields with an education component. Students who opt to do this can earn enough credits to get their teaching certificate by the time they graduate with a four-year degree.
Most of the nation's science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, teachers take a longer route: They go to colleges of education after they finish their undergraduate degrees to receive the teacher training, according to program organizers.
Physics professor Michael Marder co-founded UTeach at the University of Texas in 1997. It is now offered in 35 colleges and universities across the country and has turned out 1,150 graduates. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, to be announced Monday at a White House event, will enable UTeach to expand into 10 more schools.
"We try to get them in as fast as we can, and we'll do our best to get them through as fast as we can," Prof. Marder said.
In the past UTeach has received about $40 million in grant funding with the help of the National Math and Science Initiative, a nonprofit, according to officials there. The federal government's main push in this arena, an organizing effort called 100Kin10—with the goal of training 100,000 math and science teachers in 10 years—has raised more than $30 million total, organizers said.
Sean Carroll, an evolutionary biologist and the vice president of science education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said science, technology, engineering and math disciplines must be well understood to be taught adequately. "The better the command, the better the inspiration in the classroom," he said.
Organizers say about 90% of students in the UTeach program go into teaching, and about 80% are still there five years later. UTeach is in the process of tracking down their graduates' classroom test scores, Prof. Marder said.
The nation has struggled for years to provide enough qualified math and science teachers in schools, the White House says. In its most recent budget, the Obama administration requested $80 million to fund programs like UTeach that help produce more math and science teachers. The administration also requested $55 million for a scholarship program for science, technology, engineering and math students.
"Improving science, technology, engineering and math education is one of President Obama's top priorities, and having excellent teachers in these subjects will be critical to achieving this goal," said Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Kaaryn Keller, spokeswoman for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the nation's largest accreditor of teacher-preparation programs, said all teacher-training program should ensure graduates have deep math and science knowledge but that isn't enough to ensure high-quality teaching. "You still have to know how students learn and how to impart your knowledge to students," she said, "and that's a whole different skill set."
Trevon Jones, a math major who is enrolled in the UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin, said his math background gives him a deeper understanding of the skills students will need to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math majors and careers.
"As a mathematician, I know that logical reasoning and justifying your ideas through expository writing are critical," he said. "Now I am focused on how to teach those skills."
—Stephanie Banchero contributed to this article.
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