Math and Science teachers needed

Patrick Gibbons

The National Council on Teacher Quality released “Tackling the STEM crisis,” a report on how to help school districts attract, hire and retain high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers.

Some of the main recommendations:

• Raise standards for students to be accepted into teaching profession programs. The report states that even the NCAA has minimum requirements for student athletes, but that most states have none for would-be teachers. The National Council on Teacher Quality recommends only recruiting students from the top half of college graduates.

• Improve the quality of undergraduate preparedness. They suggest that math and science teachers should take advanced courses in their subjects to acquire a better understanding, even if they won’t teach that level of difficulty in the classroom.

• They also recommend creating a program to attract undergraduates with science and math backgrounds into the teaching profession. One such program is UTeach, at the University of Texas, Austin. UTeach is one of many alternative licensure programs that help students and graduates become licensed teachers without going through a traditional education college.

• Create alternative pathways to teacher licensure by allowing practitioners who may lack relevant college coursework to become teachers if they can prove sufficient content knowledge.

• Create more flexible pay schedules to allow part-time teachers/practitioners to teach specialty subjects like Advanced Calculus or Chemistry.
• Create bonus programs to attract existing STEM teachers from other states and allow them to start at higher levels on the pay scale more appropriate to their work experience.

• Create bonuses to attract teachers to at-risk schools.

• Focus professional development on content – the report notes that many teachers feel that the professional development they are required to take is not useful.

• Create tough but meaningful standards for students that also provide teachers with better and stronger curricula to teach.

Nevada already has a few of these programs in place, but it couldn’t hurt to add a few more.