STEM Teacher Prep Gets New Commitments

The White House goal of training or retraining 100,000 teachers in STEM subjects by 2021 is gaining momentum. 100Kin10, an organization dedicated to achieving this end, just announced 49 new partners, including Texas A&M University and Washington University in St. Louis, among other businesses, non-profits, foundations and academic institutions working on the mission.

The 100Kin10 coalition formed in 2011 following a State of the Union address in which President Obama called for the preparation of "100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math."

The organization's participants, which now number at least 280, gain access to research, funding opportunities and other resources to help them deliver their STEM teacher training. To join the organization, partner candidates undergo a review process by a team of partner reviewers and a panel of experts in education and STEM. Applicants must show organizational strength and STEM and teaching expertise and a strong commitment toward the 100,000 STEM teacher goal.

So far, five years into the 10-year program, partners have been responsible for training "over 28,000 STEM educators," according to 100Kin10.

"STEM is at the core of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. To solve them, we need to activate all the brainpower and diverse experiences of our nation's most precious natural resource: its people. Without excellent STEM teachers inspiring all of our nation's youth, this challenge will continue to elude us," said co-founder and Executive Director Talia Milgrom-Elcott in a prepared statement. "100Kin10 partners are bringing their individual passion, strengths, ideas and resources to create solutions and together forge a path forward to reach the goal of 100,000 excellent STEM teachers."

Among the new partners is Texas A&M, which has pledged to increase the supply of STEM teachers by 950 by 2021. That total will include 165 secondary math and science teachers trained specifically in serving the needs of Texas K-12 students.

Under the university's proposal, three Texas A&M colleges — the College of Science, the College of Education and Human Development and the Dwight Look College of Engineering — will work together on several initiatives. One of those is a possible teacher preparation program being introduced in a new multidisciplinary engineering major in the teacher certification areas of biology, chemistry, engineering, physics and mathematics as part of engineering's 25 by 25 initiative. Other potential collaborations could include hands-on STEM tools for early childhood and middle grade teachers to embed engineering concepts into math and science lessons. University administrators also predict a major role for an extension campus with a focus on STEM that will open in the Rio Grande Valley, a historically underserved area.

"Because very few high school teachers hold engineering degrees, it is difficult to prepare and excite their students about this field through their own personal experience," said M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of the university's College of Engineering. "This innovative partnership will help graduates earn an engineering degree while they earn a secondary science or math teacher licensure. By better preparing the teachers, they can better prepare their students."

Washington University in St. Louis' Institute for School Partnership committed to doubling the number of K-12 teachers and educators involved in STEM professional development programs between 2016 and 2020. The institute said it would accomplish this by expanding its current programs locally and designing two new national initiatives for K-8 teachers. Each initiative will be assessed based on increased teacher competence and confidence and on student achievement growth.

"After over 20 years of supporting teachers, we are excited to join this national movement to give teachers the resources they need to help their students to excel in STEM," said Victoria May, the executive director at the institute, in a press release.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.