Recruitment at PhysTEC Sites
Ball State University
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Florida International University
Seattle Pacific University
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Western Michigan University
The need to recruit and prepare more physics teachers could not be clearer. The National Academies’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm states that the most consistent and powerful predictor of student achievement in science and mathematics is a teacher who is fully certified and has at least a bachelor’s degree in the content area; however, two thirds of today’s high school physics teachers did not major in physics, and over 90% of middle school physical science students are taught by teachers without a physical science major or certification. The American Association for Employment in Education consistently lists high school physics as one of the fields with the most severe teacher shortages. We will continue to see these kinds of statistics until physics departments around the country become deeply involved in teacher preparation.
PhysTEC faculty have become masters at identifying promising undergraduates and directing them into the teacher pipeline. As a result, project institutions that have focused on the goal of increasing teacher production are graduating more than twice as many middle and high school teachers now as they were before the project began. One site has seen a more than ten-fold gain in teacher production numbers. The key now is to replicate these successes at universities around the country, until physics departments become as good at turning out excellent physics teachers as they are at turning out excellent journal articles.