Tackling the STEM Crisis: Five Steps Your State Can Take to Improve the Quality and Quantity of its K-12 Math and Science Teachers

Whitney Park

National Council on Teacher Quality and National Math and Science Initiative
June 2009

Qualified science and math teachers are in short supply and this report explains how state laws and regulations can encourage individuals to teach in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.

The report, released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and the National Math and Science Initiative, comes as Ohio is slashing funding for STEM initiatives.

The report tackles the problem of maintaining sufficient STEM teachers by addressing weaknesses in state standards for teacher preparation. Methods for getting the right people into STEM classrooms are listed in a report full of what states should do.

The report argues that laws and regulations should make it more challenging to teach in STEM fields, while also creating incentives/making it more appealing. For example, across the country, passing grades for entry teacher tests are as low as 40 percent. The Council recommends raising the minimum passing grade to 60 percent. In addition, elementary teachers need more math and science coursework. Elementary teacher candidates should be required to take math classes "specific to [their] needs" and they should know how to teach math. The report also recommends strengthening elementary licensing tests. Loopholes in middle-school licensure need to be closed and future middle-school teachers should pass licensure requirements for grades 7-12.

Since traditional education-school models are not working to attract enough STEM teachers, the report also says states should consider alternative ways to allow teachers to qualify. Flexible compensation packages, signing bonuses, and incentive programs should be used to entice qualified people to the teaching profession.

Read the report here.

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