The National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) is responsible for providing national leadership and support for improving the quality of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) education, kindergarten through graduate school. In exercising this responsibility, the Directorate has established the SME&T education of future K-12 teachers as its highest priority. The ultimate goal is to achieve excellence in the preparation of the nation's future teachers – teachers who are knowledgeable in their content areas and in the practice of teaching, creative and enthusiastic, and dedicated to life-long learning.
Teacher preparation is a complex undertaking. In fact, every component of the nation's educational enterprise must be engaged to achieve success in this critical endeavor, including, for example: undergraduate institutions and, in particular, their mathematics, science, and education faculties and departments; practicing K-12 teachers; schools and school districts and their administrators; organizations responsible for teacher certification and licensure; developers of national standards in the sciences and mathematics; providers of informal educational experiences (science centers, museums, zoos); and parent, community and business organizations. The entire educational enterprise will benefit, both directly and indirectly, through a focus on improving this educational workforce.
The NSF effort in teacher preparation bridges several divisions of EHR. Primary programmatic emphasis and responsibility for coordination resides in the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), reflecting the fundamental role of undergraduate education in the preparation of teachers. The NSF Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETP) program, with additional support within other programs of the Division, is central to EHR's efforts to effect long-lasting institutional reform in teacher preparation. The Collaboratives are developing the state and regional approaches necessary for systemic change, engaging a broad range of stakeholders in the design of exemplary courses and programs.
The projects described in this book received either new, continuation, or supplemental awards in Fiscal Year 1996. Included are projects funded through the Collaboratives program and projects funded through other programs managed by DUE. These projects provide models of exciting programs in teacher education; all of them have the potential for significant national impact. They are rich in content, current in pedagogy, serve a diverse set of students and institutions, and respond to the call for new directions. The projects set high standards for future efforts in SME&T teacher preparation. We are proud of these projects and commend the individuals who have designed and are implementing them.
Luther S. Williams
Education and Human Resources