Cultivating Math and Science Teachers for High-need School Districts
Noyce Scholarship Program aims to elevate the teaching profession while preparing teachers for success
Like doctors in training, future math and science teachers in New York University's (NYU) Teaching and Learning Residency program get real-life exposure to the demands of their profession while learning their craft from a team of experts. Recruited from among undergraduate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors, the prospective teachers are placed in exemplary New York City math and science classrooms in high-needs secondary schools and also attend weekly seminars designed to introduce them to the content and pedagogy involved in teaching math and science.
The NYU program is one of 16 projects funded in 2007 through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Robert Noyce Scholarship program (see chart). Successful completion of the residency make STEM majors eligible for a $10,000 undergraduate scholarship, plus a $15,000 scholarship for a fifth-year program leading to teacher certification and a master's degree in science or math education.
The residency includes recommendations from the New York City teacher and the NYU teacher educator who mentored the student in the residency,and from an NYU STEM faculty member who agrees to provide continuing content mentoring to the student.
"Through the Noyce program math and science teachers are inducted into the profession early on," says NSF Program Manager Joan Prival. "They're put in touch with excellent teachers and given a real picture of some of the challenges they'll face."
This approach recognizes that beyond the financial incentives, future teachers need to be part of a community that mentors and supports them. While the Noyce program requires that they teach for two years in a high-need school district for each year of financial support they receive, the goal is to develop excellent teachers who will make a career out of teaching math or science.
With the Noyce Scholarship Program, grants are awarded to colleges and universities to offer scholarships to prospective science and mathematics teachers. The scholarship recipients are both undergraduates majoring in STEM disciplines who are preparing to become K-12 math and science teachers and STEM professionals who are making a career change to go into teaching. Recipients may receive scholarships or stipends of at least $10,000 annually, limited by the cost of attendance at their institution.
In rural South Dakota, the Rural Enhancement of Mathematics and Science Teachers (REMAST) program at South Dakota State University (SDSU) is awarding up to 16 $10,000 scholarships per year over a four-year period to students pursuing seventh to twelfth grade certification in the areas of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. This project should lead to the graduation of 24 new teachers over the four years and foster a support system that will help recruit and retain teachers in rural districts.
REMAST students are mentored by a faculty member in their content area, participate in student organizations and program activities and attend annual meetings of state math and science teacher associations. By forming partnerships with six of the seven Educational Service Agencies (ESA) in South Dakota, the REMAST program is having an impact on mathematics and science education across the state. Students intern in partnership schools with growing minority populations and economic disparity to prepare them for fulfilling their teaching service requirement. During their first year of teaching, REMAST graduates are mentored by a team consisting of an SDSU faculty member in the content area and an experienced teacher in the ESA. Partnering ESAs contain a number of Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal schools, and Noyce scholars are encouraged to seek teaching positions in those districts.
Recent STEM graduates and career changers are sought for Noyce scholarships through the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Clemson University, which offers initial teacher certification for middle grades education. For each of four years, 10 participants are being recruited from industry, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and Clemson itself. The program has partnered with a national program, Call Me MISTER (Men Instructing Students Towards Effective Role Models), that is placing African-American males in elementary classrooms in South Carolina. This provides another "pipeline" to increase the number of math and science teachers from underrepresented groups.
"We are trying to interest people who are not typically going into teaching, and by providing scholarships of at least $10,000 we are trying to elevate the status of teaching," notes Prival. "A student may have entered college not thinking about teaching as a career, but through the program this becomes an option for science, mathematics, and engineering students."
To date 91 awards to institutions in 32 states have been made under the Noyce Scholarships. Next year, the results of ongoing program evaluation will be available, providing details about Noyce scholars since the program began in 2002--from the number who have started teaching, to the fields being taught, to the demographics of the individuals involved. These results should help guide the program as it fulfills a critical need into the future.
"Competitiveness in math, science and engineering requires a steady supply of scientists and engineers," says Prival. "These people will come out of our schools. So we need excellent teachers with a good grounding in their field who are able to teach math and science to students of all backgrounds."
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
Useful NSF Web Sites: