teacher preparation and professional development is needed to best serve the interest of students’ learning and of their future success as individuals, workers, and citizens. The committee also has concluded that such change is in the best interest of teachers of science and mathematics themselves, who, quite incontrovertibly, are not accorded the respect and recognition due professionals who hold such responsible positions in our society.
Increasing expectations under national, state, and local content standards are raising the stakes for what K-12 students need to know and to be able to do in science and mathematics. Concomitantly, expectations have risen for what K-12 teachers need to know and to be able to do. These expectations are reflected in part by bolstered state requirements for the type of postsecondary education and degrees required of new teachers.
Most instructors of these new teachers—including postsecondary faculty in science, mathematics, engineering, technology, and education—have not been able to provide the type of education that K-12 teachers need to succeed in their own classrooms. Numerous studies and the results from a variety of the Praxis and other teacher licensing and certification examinations demonstrate that many teachers, especially those who will teach in grades K-8, do not have sufficient content knowledge or adequate background for teaching these subject areas. Indeed, in some states, middle school teachers (typically, grades 6-8) with generalist backgrounds are being assigned to teach science or mathematics exclusively. Many faculty in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) at the nation’s colleges and universities may not be sufficiently aware of these changing expectations to provide the appropriate type and level of instruction needed by students who would be teachers. Nor do most of these faculty have the kinds of professional development experiences in teaching that would enable them to model effectively the kinds of pedagogy that are needed for success in grade K-12 classrooms. Similarly, some faculty in schools or colleges of education, especially those who are engaged with graduate programs, may have had little or no recent direct contact with teachers in classroom environments.
Once teachers reach the classroom, they often do not receive the support they need to keep their pedagogical skills and content knowledge current. Unlike in other professions, in education, few specific requirements and even fewer opportunities exist for teachers to engage in meaningful professional development (often called inservice education). Whereas other professions