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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Appendices
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology This page in the original is blank.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Appendix A Executive Summary* Attracting Science and Mathematics PhDs to Secondary School Education The United States is at a critical juncture in science and mathematics education. The U.S. Department of Education has projected that the nation’s school systems will need to hire more than two million new teachers during the next decade. Finding qualified teachers of science and mathematics will pose a special challenge, as many school districts already find it difficult to recruit science teachers. This report examines whether recent Ph.D.s in science and mathematics might provide an additional resource for helping to meet the nation’s need for qualified secondary school science and mathematics teachers in the coming years, while creating valuable connections between U.S. schools and our vibrant science and engineering communities. BACKGROUND The National Research Council (NRC) has been deeply involved in the last decade in efforts to improve the science and mathematics education of our nation’s schoolchildren. The 1996 National Science Education Standards urged “changes in what students are taught, in how their performance is assessed, in how teachers are educated and keep pace, and in the relationship between schools and the rest of the community—including the nation’s * Can be found at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9955.html.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology scientists and engineers.” It also emphasized the importance of “a new way of teaching and learning about science that reflects how science is done, emphasizing inquiry as a way of achieving knowledge and understanding about the world.” The NRC has followed the publication of the Standards with additional studies and programs that further explore key aspects of their implementation. In early 1999 the NRC launched a three-phase project to explore the feasibility of attracting scientifically trained Ph.D.s to positions in secondary school education as a possible mechanism to help improve science and mathematics education. In launching this project the NRC assumed that Ph.D. training with its strong emphasis on experimental evaluation, quantitative approaches and mathematical content could potentially make a meaningful contribution to the implementation of an inquiry-based learning environment. Also, due to the large number of Ph.D.s who have experienced difficulty recently moving out of postdoctoral positions—especially in the life sciences—the nation has an unusual opportunity to attract these Ph.D.s to America’s secondary school classrooms. Most Ph.D.s are well suited to the research careers they have chosen and should continue to pursue them. Yet there are many Ph.D.s whose training, personalities, and outlook would make them ideal candidates for secondary school teaching positions. There are, of course, a number of potential obstacles to Ph.D.s taking secondary school teaching positions. These include the willingness of Ph.D.s to take education courses and obtain certification; the attitudes of professors, colleagues, mentors, high school principals, and other secondary school teachers; the potential opposition of teachers’ unions; salary levels, and others. The purpose of the first phase of the project was to evaluate the possibilities and obstacles and to recommend possible incentives to overcome them. SCOPE OF STUDY The NRC project to attract science and mathematics Ph.D.s to secondary education was organized into three phases. The first phase was designed to tell us whether there was any interest among Ph.D.s in becoming secondary school teachers and, if so, what incentives states and school districts might use to attract them. This report summarizes the findings from these investigations, with suggestions to the committee overseeing phase two.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Phase two will use information gained from phase one and other information sources to help design state-based demonstration programs to attract science and mathematics Ph.D.s to positions in K-12 education. Phase three will implement demonstration programs to place Ph.D.s in classrooms and possibly other educational positions in several test states. Phase three will also include an evaluation component to determine the effectiveness of the recruitment effort, as well as the potential benefits to the children taught by Ph.D. teachers. The charge to the phase one committee was very narrowly directed. We were asked to determine (1) the likelihood that science and mathematics Ph.D.s could be attracted to secondary education, and (2) what special incentives might be useful for states, school districts, and others to attract Ph.D.s to such positions. The committee was not asked to examine or to substantiate the premises that underlie this project, nor was it charged with implementing its findings. Moreover, it was not charged with assessing the potential benefits of placing science and mathematics Ph.D.s in secondary school teaching. These suggested benefits and their cost should be made explicit and carefully evaluated by the phase-two study committee. The charge for the phase one committee was primarily to provide information to the committee overseeing the second phase of the project as it deliberates how demonstration programs might be designed. METHODS OF STUDY To meet its charge, the committee investigated the career ambitions of Ph.D.s in the physical sciences, life sciences, and mathematics, and their willingness to take positions in secondary science and mathematics education under a variety of hypothetical conditions. Through focus groups and a national survey of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the committee investigated how teacher preparation programs, work conditions, and compensation packages could be modified to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school science and mathematics education. In addition, the committee interviewed high school and magnet school principals, school district superintendents, state education policy makers, and graduate school deans to identify obstacles in the way of Ph.D.s taking secondary school positions as well as programmatic changes that could be used to attract Ph.D.s to secondary science and mathematics education. The committee also conducted interviews with Ph.D.s already working in secondary education to understand any barriers they had to overcome in
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology taking these positions and their experiences in the secondary school environment. Committee members included experts in the life sciences and physical sciences, labor economics, graduate education, secondary school science teaching, teacher preparation, and partnerships between higher education and K-12 education institutions. FINDINGS Interest in Secondary Teaching Based on our survey results, a large enough number of Ph.D.s appear to be sufficiently interested in secondary education for the NRC to explore a program to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching positions. However, we cannot estimate the exact percentage of Ph.D.s who might ultimately consider secondary school teaching as a career. As with any career choice, this would depend on the specific incentives offered and the alternatives available at the time of choice. Our survey results demonstrate that potential interest in careers in secondary school science and mathematics education is much higher than the 0.8 percent of Ph.D.s who currently work in K-12 education. The interest is high enough, we believe, to justify the development of demonstration programs to test the feasibility of this career alternative. This group of highly trained and knowledgeable individuals is potentially a valuable resource for secondary school science and mathematics education. Respondents to our survey have typically considered at least four different options in contemplating their career futures; however, at least 36 percent of respondents have considered secondary school teaching or other secondary education positions in their career decision-making. Respondents who were still in graduate school, female, or U.S. citizens were the most open to considering a career in secondary education. Chemists, with strong career options in industry, were less likely than respondents in the biological sciences, physics, and mathematics to consider secondary teaching positions. Challenges and Possibilities Given our survey results, a key question that a project designed to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching must address is why, if up to 36 percent of science and mathematics Ph.D.s have considered secondary
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology teaching careers, less than 1 percent are currently employed by K-12 educational institutions. We found that Ph.D.s have many negative perceptions about secondary school education that mitigate against their considering secondary school teaching positions. They perceive a lack of status and respect as teachers, poor classroom laboratory facilities, too many students in classrooms, structured curricula with little opportunity for creativity, possible conflicts with non-Ph.D. teachers, and student discipline problems. They also often perceive little value in education courses and see teacher certification as a barrier that is difficult to overcome. Low salary expectations for teaching in comparison to other careers also present a significant disincentive. Stereotypes about Ph.D.s both in the secondary schools and in the universities create obstacles. For example, many school administrators argue that Ph.D.s may have good content knowledge, but do not have necessary pedagogical skills or cannot relate to secondary school students. In addition many university faculty do not promote non-academic careers for Ph.D.s, much less careers in secondary school education. Indeed, graduate students typically aspire to positions in academic science and mathematics similar to those of their mentors, and the socialization process in graduate school strongly reinforces this career path. Given these challenges, what do we, the phase one committee, believe is necessary for success? First, a program to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching must combat negative perceptions about the secondary school environment. A first step would be to recruit Ph.D.s for whom the perceived positives outweigh the negatives. This may not be so difficult. While many participants in our focus groups held negative perceptions, many also held a number of positive perceptions, which included attractive working hours, a work schedule similar to their children’s school day, and time for research or other activities during the summer. Many also believed they would enjoy the opportunity to foster the scientific interests of young people. Differences among focus group participants about whether they would prefer to teach at regular public high schools or science and technology magnet schools suggest that flexibility vis-à-vis these preferences will be important if we want to attract Ph.D.s to teaching. Our interviews with Ph.D. teachers and school administrators indicated that negative stereotypes about Ph.D.s as teachers are widespread, but have not posed obstacles to all Ph.D.s who have actually become teachers. In practice, only a minority of the Ph.D. teachers we spoke with had encountered resistance from school administrators or teachers. We also found
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology that only a minority of the teachers we interviewed faced active disregard from colleagues and mentors after announcing a decision to take a secondary school position. We suggest that focusing on those states, school districts, schools, and graduate institutions where individuals—faculty and administrators—are most supportive of secondary school education as a potential career path for Ph.D.s would provide the most fertile ground for the demonstration projects. We learned that those who select a secondary school teaching career should first assess their own personalities, interests, and skills. Those who will succeed and find fulfillment in secondary school education will be those who love teaching and enjoy helping students learn and achieve. Ph.D. teachers told us that for them the love of teaching and the enjoyment they get from working with children helps compensate for the higher salaries they could command in other science and mathematics careers. They also told us that preparation in educational pedagogy is essential, even for Ph.D.s, and that certification is an important outward sign of professional acceptance. Finally, it appears important that Ph.D.s contemplating teaching should have had some prior relevant experience and education to help them determine whether a teaching career is right for them. Our data suggest that Ph.D.s can be attracted to secondary school education through programs that address their needs and interests and that help sustain them as teachers. Our survey presented graduate students and recent Ph.D.s with a number of scenarios, under which they were asked if they would consider secondary school science or mathematics teaching. Respondents indicated that they would be attracted by a fellowship program that provided training, placement, opportunities for networking with peers and that would cover their living expenses during the training period. They were strongly disinclined to undergo a normal full certification for teaching, but were quite amenable to an accelerated program. They were also interested in receiving mentoring during their classroom training. The potential availability of better resources for science education in the classroom and of better salaries were also of considerable interest to our survey respondents. Other incentives that would serve to attract Ph.D.s to teaching careers would be access to a regional- or university-based science teaching resource center that provided science kits, loaned laboratory equipment, and organized field opportunities for science experiments in which students could participate. Many Ph.D.s would like to continue their involvement in science in some way. Our survey respondents who said they would con-
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology sider secondary school careers indicated that funding for summer research opportunities and for attendance at professional meetings during the school year is very appealing to them. Although many survey respondents say they would be unwilling to make more than an initial two-year commitment to secondary school education this should not be seen as limiting any activity designed to attract Ph.D.s to such positions. We believe it important first to recruit Ph.D.s to secondary education and then to work to retain them, as any industry tries to retain its valued employees. We anticipate that some of these individuals will discover their love for teaching children and remain in the program far beyond the initial two-year commitment. Among incentives for retention might be special training opportunities that would facilitate career options in K-12 leadership roles. GUIDANCE FOR DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS As a next step, we recommend that the NRC continue to explore the development of demonstration programs. We recommend that the committee overseeing the second phase of the NRC’s project on attracting Ph.D.s to secondary science and mathematics education convene a workshop consisting of stakeholders in secondary school and postsecondary science and mathematics education to discuss in detail how demonstration programs might be structured. Based on the findings of the phase one study, we urge the committee overseeing phase two to consider the following programmatic features for demonstrations programs. ORGANIZATION OF DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS State Demonstration Programs. The committee overseeing the second phase of this project should consider developing demonstration programs in cooperation with a small number of interested states. State governments should organize these demonstration programs because states play a stronger role than the federal government in education in the United States and can potentially bring more resources to bear than can local school districts. States may also develop their demonstration programs to fit their own educational and human resources needs. Selection and Placement of Ph.D.s for Teaching Positions. The committee recognized that particular care must be taken in selecting Ph.D.s
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology to participate in these demonstration programs. The selection process should identify individuals who have strong knowledge of their subject matter, a demonstrated interest in secondary school science and mathematics education, and personal characteristics appropriate to the secondary school education environment. Drawing from survey results, the committee suggests that state demonstration programs place and support Ph.D.s in a variety of secondary school education positions, including teaching positions in regular public secondary schools and science and technology magnet schools, as appropriate to the needs of the state. States should consider regional clustering of Ph.D.s in their demonstration programs to facilitate networking, to optimize use of laboratory and science teaching resources, and to forge links between demonstration programs and university education science departments. Role of Postsecondary Institutions. The phase two committee should consider designing demonstration programs that have strong linkages to science and mathematics programs at colleges and universities in their states, piggybacking on any existing partnership programs. Colleges and universities could facilitate the recruitment and preparation of Ph.D.s for secondary school teaching and provide opportunities for classroom and secondary school experience for Ph.D.s interested in applying to the demonstration programs. They could also serve as venues for special workshops and meetings for Ph.D. teachers during the school year as part of a demonstration program in a given state. Finally, they could provide resources to support secondary school science and mathematics education. Evaluation. Finally, we suggest that any demonstration program designed by the phase two committee include an evaluation component, to be implemented simultaneously with the demonstrations. The evaluation plan should address the feasibility of placing science and mathematics Ph.D.s in secondary school teaching, assessing the process of implementing such a program, and conducting an outcome evaluation based on measurable goals. A cross-site evaluation of the state demonstration programs, including their means for recruiting, placing, and supporting Ph.D.s in secondary school teaching, would inform other states considering similar programs.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology PEDAGOGICAL SKILLS AND TEACHING RESOURCES Education Courses and Certification. We strongly support the development of education courses and a teacher certification process tailored to the experiences and needs of Ph.D. scientists and mathematicians. Interviews with administrators and Ph.D. teachers indicated that education courses provide teachers with important pedagogical knowledge and that certification is an important step in establishing oneself as a teacher. We strongly agree. As a practical matter, however, courses leading to certification are not likely to be attractive to this population unless they can be accomplished in a fairly compressed manner. We found that 44 percent of our survey respondents and more than two-thirds of those who had previously considered teaching careers indicated that they would consider teaching positions if they could receive their main training prior to beginning teaching by taking an intensive summer course in education. The percentage who would consider teaching if the period of time were increased to one year dropped precipitously to just 14 percent overall and 22 percent for those who had previously considered teaching. Ph.D. teachers we interviewed indicated that they believed a streamlined course in educational theory and practice leading to certification could be developed for Ph.D.s. We suggest that the state demonstration programs being designed by the phase two committee provide Ph.D.s with an intensive summer program in educational theory and practice as part of a process by which Ph.D.s could obtain teaching certification in an accelerated manner and should fund participants during this summer program. The summer program should focus on educational psychology, pedagogy, and pedagogical content knowledge. Mentoring and Other Resources. Our survey clearly indicated that Ph.D.s would be more likely to consider teaching positions if they were mentored. The committee suggests that states should consider the selection and appointment of master teachers to serve as mentors to Ph.D.s participating in the demonstration programs. Providing mentors may add programmatic costs if states provide additional compensation to mentors, but the availability of mentors could be an important part of any program to introduce Ph.D.s to teaching careers. We also found that 52 percent of survey respondents and three-quarters of respondents who had previously considered teaching, would consider a secondary school teaching career if they received support from a
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology regional- or university-based science resource center that provided science kits and loaned equipment or a partnership with an university. The committee overseeing the second phase of this project should work with states to determine whether the development of such science teaching resource centers would be a feasible component of state demonstration programs. Future Positions for Ph.D.s. Ph.D.s could eventually contribute not only as teachers in the classroom, but also as leaders in other K-12 science and mathematics education positions. There was considerable interest among our survey respondents in providing professional development (e.g. teaching science or mathematics teachers), in becoming a science or mathematics specialist for a school district, in working in a university- or industry-based science educational partnership, or in serving as a science specialist in a science resource center. To a lesser degree, there was also interest in curriculum development or work in a science museum, environmental science center, or similar institution. While Ph.D.s could eventually contribute as leaders in K-12 science and mathematics education through these positions, we believe that it is essential for them to have secondary school teaching experience first. Incentives The survey identified a number of incentives that respondents indicated would favorably effect their consideration of taking a position in secondary school teaching. National Fellowship Program. Two-thirds of our survey respondents and almost 90 percent of respondents who had previously considered secondary school careers would consider taking a position as a secondary school teacher if they were awarded a fellowship that provided training, placement, and special opportunities for networking with peers, and covered living expenses during the training period. Given the potential such a fellowship might have for attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching, the phase two committee should consider ways in which a fellowship program might be established and administered by a prestigious national agency or organization. The national program, instituted in cooperation with the states, could select and train fellows, fund them during their training, and provide an on-going opportunity for networking with peers.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology A program that is national in scope could potentially attract resources from national sources, draw applicants from across the country, and serve as a catalyst for the state demonstration programs. A prestigious fellowship program would attract applicants who might not otherwise consider secondary school positions and produce a cohort of science and mathematics teachers who could conceivably change the way science and mathematics are taught. The potential downside to a “prestigious” fellowship for Ph.D. teachers is that it might adversely differentiate them from the population of teachers we want them to join. We also recognize that the establishment of a national fellowship program would increase costs. Compensation. Survey respondents recognized that salaries for secondary school teaching were lower than for other career options. Still, the average starting salary for teachers anticipated by graduate students and Ph.D.s in our survey—$37,400—is within the range of starting salaries offered to Ph.D. teachers by school districts, albeit at the high end of the range. We believe that states and school districts will need to demonstrate a strong financial commitment to the program for it to succeed by supplementing Ph.D. salaries. This might be done by providing stipends for attendance at scientific meetings and for other activities related to the professional development of the Ph.D.s and the benefit of their students. We asked our survey respondents if they would consider a secondary school teaching position if they were guaranteed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the end of a two-year teaching position, or if one year of their student loans were forgiven for each year of employment in a fulltime teaching position. Given the low favorable response to these scenarios and the additional cost burden that they would place on a national program, we do not recommend that such incentives be offered as part of a national fellows program. Peer Networking. Survey respondents indicated that, as teachers, they would welcome the opportunity to continue to network with their professional peers. Those surveyed responded very positively to consideration of teaching if they were provided opportunities for networking with peers. A fellowship program could include, among other devices, an annual meeting of fellows; participating states should also consider a regional clustering of Ph.D.s to facilitate networking opportunities.
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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Connections with the Larger Scientific Community. In designing state demonstration programs the phase two committee should consider providing opportunities for interactions between Ph.D. teachers and the scientific community in academia and industry. Respondents were very likely to consider teaching if they were given funding and time to attend at least one scientific meeting during the school year. We also found that respondents would consider teaching if they were guaranteed a summer fellowship, with travel expenses, in a research laboratory. The phase two committee should consider how states could develop links to universities and businesses to provide summer research opportunities for Ph.D.s, as they already do for science teachers in some states. Finally, the scientific community will need to provide these Ph.D.s with support and treat them as colleagues throughout their careers.
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