As Texas faces a math and computer science teacher shortage, preparing the STEM leaders of tomorrow requires reexamining the teacher pipeline today.
Eighth-grade algebra is often a prerequisite for high school computer science courses, as well as for college math readiness requirements for students interested in majoring in a STEM field. However, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), average eighth-grade mathematics scores for students from under-resourced populations — as determined by their eligibility for free and reduced lunch — consistently fall below the average scores of those with fewer financial and economic obstacles. The number of highly qualified STEM teachers to provide instruction students need in their content courses has been steadily declining in Texas and across the nation.
What does this mean, practically speaking? Simply put, as Texas faces a math and computer science teacher shortage, preparing the STEM leaders of tomorrow requires reexamining the teacher pipeline today. Developing a new approach to STEM teacher preparation can help our schools improve student access to high-quality math and computer science programs — especially for under-resourced middle and high schools.
UTeach and the Charles A. Dana Center, both at The University of Texas at Austin, are partnering with support from Microsoft to explore STEM teaching pathways between community colleges and universities.
Our objective is to increase the number and diversity of STEM teachers in Texas, and we have found that there is opportunity and urgency around transforming and expanding certification pathways for future STEM teachers.
To meet our objective, we are pursuing three primary, immediate objectives around community college partnerships.
Create a local pathway between The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College – UTeach ACCess.
Create of a Community College Advisory Panel with experts from community colleges, universities, and key organizations to build a generalizable model.
Lead a learning community comprised of UTeach partner programs that are also exploring community college pathways.
Our Advisory Panel has representation from The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Community College, the Charles A. Dana Center, Kilgore College, Dallas College, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Texas at Tyler, University of Texas at San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin State University, NISOD, and Raise Your Hand Texas.
We meet regularly to develop the generalizable model for community colleges and universities to successfully implement a STEM teaching pathway.