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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology
The committee notes that several groups should be involved in the development of the evaluation plan to ensure that it is appropriate for the program and can be done. They include the institutions of higher education that will provide some preparation to the PhDs and the local schools or school districts that are the setting for the teaching parts of the program. Most important, an organization that has experience and proven competence in designing evaluation plans for K-12 educational programs should be involved.
This report marks the conclusion of the second phase of a project to explore the possibilities and design of a demonstration program to attract PhDs in science, mathematics, and engineering to careers in K-12 education. The twin goals of this project are to offer a challenging career opportunity to new and recent PhDs and to tap their unique talents to improve the nation’s educational system. The first phase showed that significant numbers of PhDs would be interested in careers in K-12 education. This report considers how to simultaneously meet the needs and interests of the PhDs and the nation’s schools, and it specifies some of the design criteria for the demonstration program.
The program the committee proposes—a national 2-year fellowship for new and recent PhDs—if carefully implemented and rigorously evaluated, will provide clear evidence of its benefits and costs and can, if the benefits outweigh the costs, guide the development of large-scale, long-term efforts in this area. It is clear that just having the distinguished fellowship is not sufficient. Careful implementation will involve strong connections with participating local schools and districts, as well as strong and appropriate programs at the participating institutions of higher education and continuing contacts among the fellows. The proposed program carries the expectation that a new community of educators will develop among the fellows, who carry the cultures of both K-12 education and their disciplines, and so contribute to a high level of science, mathematics, and technology in K-12 education across the nation. The committee strongly endorses moving to Phase III of the project: calling together potential funders and program designers to implement the program.