AUSTIN, Texas—A trailblazing program that prepares students to be certified teachers in mathematics or science has received three years of scholarship funding totaling $500,000 for dozens of students who have agreed to teach in high-need school districts.
The grant from the National Science Foundation to physics Professor Michael Marder, a co-director of the UTeach program, is being used this year by the College of Natural Sciences to support 17 undergraduates and three students who already have undergraduate degrees. Each undergraduate has a chance at a second year of funding, and will receive $7,500 over two semesters. Those with undergraduate degrees will receive $10,000 over two semesters.
This year’s scholarship recipients plan to teach biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics or physics. To be eligible for the scholarships, they needed to have an overall grade-point average of at least 3.0, and a grade-point average for UTeach courses of at least 3.5. They also are within four semesters of graduating, and have committed to spending two years in a high-need school district after graduation for each year of scholarship support.
A 2003 report from the State Board for Educator Certification revealed that almost one-third of all teachers in Texas public schools taught outside their areas of expertise. As a result of this deficiency, having one or more schools with a high teacher-attrition rate or having many economically disadvantaged students, many state districts qualify as high need.
The 136 graduates of UTeach are certified in their subject areas, and about 85 percent are teaching. The program has been cited as a model by U. S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, the non-profit Education Trust, the National Academy of Sciences and other organizations. It is being replicated at institutions that include the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Colorado.
In UTeach, students complete a regular degree program while receiving opportunities from their first days in the program to teach lessons in elementary and secondary classrooms. The students also participate in classes the College of Education has created especially for UTeach participants that focus on a contemporary understanding of how students learn and the way technology and other tools boost learning.
UTeach in Natural Sciences has more than 400 current participants, including about 50 who will graduate in May. Faculty from the College of Natural Sciences and College of Education teach students in the program. The College of Liberal Arts began a UTeach program in 2002 for their students who are pursuing degrees in English, foreign languages and social studies.
To learn more, visit the UTeach Web site, or contact Dr. Marder (Natural Sciences) at 512-232-2770, or Dr. Larry Abraham (Education) at 512-471-5942.
For more information contact: Barbra Rodriguez, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675.