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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology
ence and mathematics in pursuing careers in secondary education. Analysis of the Phase I data suggests that a significant percentage of PhDs might be interested in pursuing careers in secondary education under some circumstances. This report from the second phase of the project presents a proposal for a national demonstration program to determine how one might prepare PhDs to be productive members of the K-12 education community. The proposed program is designed to help meet the needs of the nation’s schools, while providing further career opportunities for recent PhDs in science, mathematics and engineering.
The committee proposes that the concept be demonstrated through a National Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to prepare new and recent PhDs for teaching and other positions in K-12 education and to prepare them to take part in future leadership activities. The program would provide 2 years of support for fellows to undertake classroom study and supervised teaching. Their work would include the courses and experiences necessary for teaching certification in their states. Part of the work would be based in institutions of higher education; part would be based in local schools. In the first year, all costs would be borne by the national program; the schools in which the fellows are employed are expected to pay their stipends and benefits in their second year in the program.
The proposed demonstration program needs to be national in scope because the needs in K-12 education are national, the potential supply of PhDs represents a national pool, and there would be economies of scale for recruitment, selection, and placement at the national level. A national program will also provide the opportunity for schools to choose from a larger pool of applicants and for applicants to choose from a larger pool of schools than would be the case for local or state programs. Finally, the committee believes that the nature of the problem is such that success will require the prestige and momentum that can only be achieved through national attention.
The committee strongly endorses Phase III of the project in which the proposed demonstration program would be implemented and evaluated. An initial 4-year demonstration program for cohorts of around 15 fellows per year should generate enough evidence to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of expanding the effort. However, the committee believes that a comprehensive evaluation of whether the fellows become successful K-12 educators and improve K-12 teaching in science, mathematics, and technology in the nation’s schools will require a program of at least 30 fellows a year for perhaps 10 years. For 30 fellows per year, such a program would