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The U.S. faces a critical shortage of qualified physics and physical science teachers. Two-thirds of new physics teachers lack a physics degree, and over 90% of middle school physical science students are taught by teachers without a physical science major or certification. In order to address the crisis in physics and physical science education, the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) lead the PhysTEC project, with support from the American Institute of Physics (AIP).
The mission of PhysTEC is to improve and promote the education of future physics teachers. Specifically, the project aims to
The PhysTEC project completed its eleventh year at the end of July 2012. Our funded institutions have achieved a number of significant successes, including:
The project has two main efforts: the PhysTEC Supported Sites and the national Physics Teacher Education Coalition. PhysTEC Supported Sites are selected colleges and universities that are developing their physics teacher preparation programs into national models with substantial project support. Twelve institutions have completed their project funding period, and are now sustaining project activities through internal funding and other sources. Eight sites are currently funded, and are developing long-term institutional support for their programs. Seven new sites were selected in Spring 2012, six of these began funding in Fall 2012 and the seventh will begin funding in Fall 2013.
The Coalition of Member Institutions is a national network of over 260 institutions committed to developing and promoting excellence in physics and physical science teacher preparation. PhysTEC organizes an annual national conference, as well as smaller regional and topical workshops for Coalition members. In addition, PhysTEC has teamed up with ComPADRE, the NSF-funded digital library, to produce the Coalition website, which houses a collection of electronic resources in teacher preparation. Please see www.ptec.org for more information and to learn how your institution can join this growing movement.
PhysTEC recognizes areas of especially high need for physics and physical science teachers. These include nationwide shortages of women and minority teachers, as well as severe shortages of teachers in certain geographic areas. The project hopes to address these needs through targeted outreach, financial support, and program development.
PhysTEC is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and individual and and APS's 21st Century Campaign (APS). For more information on the crisis in physics education and the PhysTEC efforts, please see the presentation High School Teacher Preparation: PhysTEC and National Solutions.