Providing Scholarships and a Pipeline for More Math and Science Teachers
The Geology and Physics departments at UC Davis, in collaboration with the School of Education, received two recent grants to strengthen the campus’s ability to prepare more desperately needed math and science teachers for California.
The Physics Teacher Education Coalition awarded a three-year $300,000 grant to develop a model program to recruit more students into physics education and prepare more physics teachers. The NSF-funded Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program provides $1.2 million to support undergraduate and credential students who are pursuing mathematics and science teaching credentials. Geology professor Howard Day, the director of UC Davis Mathematics and Science Teaching (MAST) Program, is the lead on the NSF grant. Along with Day, Department of Physics professors David Webb and Warren Pickett are the lead faculty on the physics education grant.
In 2004, the University of California campuses pledged to increase the number of new science and math teachers it prepares for California classrooms through its California Teach program. This initiative encourages UC undergraduates interested in science, math or engineering to consider teaching as a career and creates courses to help them become great teachers. At UC Davis, the MAST program brings the School of Education together with physics and geology to provide courses, internships and mentoring to math and science majors interested in pursuing teaching after college.
Educators and policymakers have long agreed that the need for high-quality K-12 math and science teachers is great. California’s need for a technically savvy workforce outstrips the number of high school graduates who pursue math and science in college and beyond. And very few math and science majors pursue teaching as a career. Even more concerning is the dismally small numbers of minority college students who enter math and science teaching careers.
“It is so important to increase the number of math and science teachers, especially underrepresented minorities,” said Barbara Goldman, associate director of the School’s Teacher Education program. “Teachers in California need to be prepared to teach in diverse, high needs classrooms with a large proportion of English learners. Students in our schools deserve highly qualified teachers who understand their communities and are well prepared to help them succeed in the twenty-first century.”
As a result of the PhysTech and Noyce grants, MAST aims to increase by at least 50 percent the number of math and science credential students in the School’s teacher education program and to retain more than 80 percent of new credential teachers in their districts for four or more years.