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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION 4 Discussion The NRC urged in National Science Education Standards and subsequent reports that science teachers should bring new approaches, such as inquiry-based learning, to their classrooms. At the same time, the nation is faced with hiring as many as 200,000 public secondary school science and mathematics teachers over the next decade. This study has examined whether Ph.D. scientists and mathematicians could be attracted to secondary school science and mathematics education. We have found that more Ph.D.s are potentially interested in such positions than is reflected in their current K-12 employment level. We also found that certain kinds of programs and incentives could provide conditions under which many Ph.D.s would consider secondary school science and mathematics education careers. In this chapter, we summarize our findings and discuss the pros and cons of the various incentives that survey respondents found attractive as a way of providing guidance to all of those interested in this important issue. FINDINGS Interest in Secondary Teaching Based on our survey results, there appears to be sufficient interest by a reasonable number of Ph.D.s in secondary school teaching for the NRC to continue to investigate whether to develop and how to implement a program to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching positions. We do not know exactly what number or percentage of Ph.D.s 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. However, our survey results do demonstrate that interest in careers in secondary school science and mathematics education appears to be much higher among Ph.D.s than is represented by the 0.8 percent of them who currently work in K-12 education. This interest is high enough, we believe, to justify demonstration programs to test the feasibility of this career alternative. Respondents to our survey had considered at least four different options in contemplating their career futures. We found that 36 percent of respondents had
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION considered secondary school teaching or other secondary education positions in their career decision making. We found that 10 percent had previously taught in an elementary or secondary school. This pool could provide an untapped source for helping to meet the needs for secondary school science and mathematics education. Among those we surveyed, individuals with certain characteristics were more likely than others to have considered a position in secondary school science or mathematics education. Respondents who were still in graduate school or who were not currently in postdoctoral positions were the most open to considering secondary school education positions. Graduate students and recent Ph.D.s in the biological sciences were more likely to consider secondary school teaching positions. Physicists and mathematicians were the most likely. Also women were more likely than men, and U.S. citizens were much more likely than non-U.S. citizens, to have considered or to consider secondary school positions. We found that chemists were least likely to consider such positions. Presumably they have strong opportunities in industry as well as academe. Although some focus group participants held negative perceptions about secondary school teaching, many held a number of positive perceptions. These included attractive working hours, a work schedule the same as that of their children, and time for research or other activities during the summer. More to the point, many focus group participants also believed they would enjoy fostering scientific interest among students. We also found through our survey that many recent science and mathematics Ph.D.s would consider other secondary school education positions in professional development, in university- or industry-based science education partnerships, or as science or mathematics specialists in school districts or a regional science resource center. Indeed, the Ph.D. teachers we interviewed indicated that, in addition to teaching, they currently provide leadership through curriculum development, professional workshops for teachers, and writing new textbooks. Challenges 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 teaching careers, are less than 1 percent currently employed by K-12 educational institutions? Some of the answers to this question are that Ph.D.s have many negative perceptions about secondary school education that prevent them from considering secondary school teaching positions. Some participants in our focus groups perceived a potential lack of status and respect as teachers, poor classroom laboratory facilities, excessive numbers of students in classrooms, structured curricula that allowed little opportunity for creativity, possible conflicts with non-Ph.D. teachers, and discipline
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION problems. Both focus group discussions and survey results indicated that graduate students and recent Ph.D.s often perceive little added value in taking a full complement of education courses, and teacher certification is perceived as a barrier that is difficult to overcome. Salary expectations also present a challenge for attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school education. Our survey found that respondents who had considered a career in secondary school education had lower salary expectations for a secondary school teaching position than those who had not, both for starting salaries and salaries anticipated in 7 years. All survey respondents recognized that salaries for positions in secondary school teaching were lower than for other career options. However, the average starting salary for teachers anticipated by graduate students and Ph.D.s in our survey—$37,400—is at the high end of the range of starting salaries offered to Ph.D.s by school districts nationwide. There are many stereotypes about Ph.D.s that create additional challenges. 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. Similarly, many university faculty do not encourage nonacademic careers for Ph.D.s generally, 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 reinforces this. In some cases, graduate students who have expressed an interest in secondary school education careers have been treated as second-class citizens. As a consequence, many graduate students may fear that they will compromise their careers by vocalizing an interest in secondary school education. What is Necessary for Success? Given these challenges, what is necessary for success? A program to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching must do what it can to overcome negative perceptions about working in the secondary school environment. To combat such perceptions as low status and lack of respect, excessive numbers of students in classrooms, possible conflicts with non-Ph.D. teachers, student discipline problems, and lower salaries, a program to attract Ph.D.s to secondary education should focus on recruiting Ph.D.s for whom the perceived positives outweigh the negatives. It is clear that Ph.D.s who seek secondary school careers must be properly motivated in order to be successful. Those who select a secondary school teaching career also need to assess their own personalities and interests. 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 we interviewed told us that, for them,
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION the love of teaching and the enjoyment they get from working with children helps compensate for lower salaries than Ph.D.s could command in other science and mathematics careers. There were differences of preference among focus group participants about whether they would like to teach at regular public high schools or science and technology magnet schools. Many thought they would enjoy teaching in magnet or private schools. One participant said that “teaching at a good secondary school could be better than teaching at a bad college.” However, other participants thought that teaching in regular public secondary schools where they could motivate regular students would be more socially responsible. The survey results also indicated that teaching in a magnet school would be a strong attraction for Ph.D.s. These differences in preference as well as differences in needs among school districts suggest that flexibility in placement of Ph.D.s with schools would provide the most appropriate course. Results from both the focus group and survey indicated that graduate students and recent Ph.D.s often perceive little value in education courses and see teacher certification as a barrier to pursuing a teaching careers. However, these barriers could potentially be overcome by designing a program of courses in educational pedagogy tailored to the needs of Ph.D.s. Both the Ph.D. teachers and school administrators we interviewed strongly recommended that Ph.D.s take education courses and obtain certification to teach. Ph.D. teachers believe that there is value in education courses and that certification is an important outward sign of professional acceptance. The consensus among Ph.D.s we talked to and those we surveyed, however, is that accelerated programs leading to certification that are tailored to their needs would be the most effective way of attracting and preparing them for secondary school careers. In addition, Ph.D.s who seek secondary school careers should also have relevant experience and education. Ph.D. teachers and administrators strongly recommended that those considering a secondary school teaching career should seek opportunities to work in classrooms, both to obtain direct teaching experience and to explore whether teaching career is right for them. Our interviews with Ph.D. teachers and school administrators also indicated that, while negative stereotypes about Ph.D.s as secondary school teachers are widespread, they have not posed obstacles to all Ph.D.s who seek secondary school careers. For example, we were pleased to learn that, in practice, only a minority of the Ph.D. teachers we spoke with had encountered resistance from school administrators or teachers based negative stereotypes, but this is a widespread conviction. Also, we found in talking to Ph.D.s teachers that only a minority faced active disregard from colleagues and mentors after announcing a decision to take a secondary school position. Ph.D.s could be attracted to secondary school education through programs that address their needs and interests and sustain them as teachers. We presented graduate students and recent Ph.D.s who participated in our survey with a number of scenarios and asked whether they would consider secondary school science or mathematics teaching
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION under each of them. Respondents indicated strong interest in teaching if they were awarded a prestigious national fellowship that would provide training, placement, and special opportunities for networking with peers, as well as cover living expenses during the training period. They also gave strong support to consideration of secondary school teaching if there were an accelerated certification process, mentoring in curriculum development and pedagogy, resources that support science education, and higher salaries. Participants in our focus groups also indicated that poor classroom laboratory facilities were a disincentive to taking secondary school teaching positions. There may, however, be creative ways that states and school districts can compensate for this. For example, respondents to our survey were attracted to the idea of having teaching support from a regional- or university-based science teaching resource center that provided science kits, loaned laboratory equipment, and organized field opportunities for student science experiments in which students could participate. We also found through our survey that many Ph.D.s seek the option of having continued involvement in science and, potentially, taking a leadership role in science and mathematics education. Having funded summer research opportunities and funded attendance at professional meetings during the school year is appealing to graduate students and recent Ph.D.s who have considered secondary school careers. Many Ph.D.s would also potentially seek opportunities to help build a bridge between K-12 and postsecondary science and mathematics and to take on other leadership roles in K-12 science and mathematics education other than classroom teaching. Finally, we found that many survey respondents would only make an initial two-year commitment to secondary school education positions. However, this should not be seen as limiting any activity designed to attract Ph.D.s to such positions. We believe it is important to provide Ph.D.s a means for obtaining such positions, allowing them to realize their own potential long-term career interests, and provide them incentives to stay longer. Among those incentives might be special training opportunities that would facilitate career options in other K-12 leadership roles as well as teaching positions. GUIDANCE FOR DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS As a next step, the NRC should continue to explore the development of possible demonstration programs. In developing such programs, the committee overseeing the second phase of the NRC's project on attracting Ph.D.s to secondary science and mathematics education should consider a number of potential programmatic features that could help to make secondary school teaching attractive to Ph.D.s. These features could include demonstration programs developed and administered by states, a national fellowship program designed both to attract and select appropriate candidates, a rigorous process for selecting Ph.D.s for secondary school teaching, and flexibility in placing
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION project should also consider the role of postsecondary institutions in the demonstration programs and the implementation of an evaluation as a critical ongoing component of the demonstration. Incentives for attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching that the committee overseeing the second phase of the project should consider include an intensive summer program in education and pedagogy, funding for such training, and an accelerated certification process. The availability of mentors for at least the first year of teaching, additional teaching resources, salary supplements, opportunities to network with peers and scientific colleagues, and summer research opportunities are additional features that should be considered. Organization of Demonstration Programs State Demonstration Programs The committee overseeing the second phase of this project should develop a design for demonstration programs that could be carried out in cooperation with a small number of interested states. We recommend that state governments organize these demonstrations because states play a stronger role than the federal government in education in the United States and they can potentially bring more resources to bear than can local school districts. States would also develop their demonstration programs to fit their own educational and human resources needs. We expect that state programs will differ from one another in their features. An evaluation of the demonstration programs would take the diversity of state approaches into account in testing the feasibility and effectiveness of attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school classrooms. Selection of Ph.D.s for Teaching Positions The committee recognized that the identification and selection of science and mathematics Ph.D.s for secondary school teaching is a critical step in the process of implementing demonstrations. 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. Role of Postsecondary Institutions The phase two committee should consider designing desmonstration 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
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION 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 and provide resources to support secondary school science and mathematics education. These kinds of connections would provide opportunities for interchange between the K-12 educational system and postsecondary science and mathematics that would benefit both and would also create a community of individuals who can bridge the gap between K-12 and undergraduate approaches to science and mathematics education. Flexibility in School Placement The state demonstration programs ideally would 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 and the fellows. The ability to teach in a specialized science and technology high school was very popular among respondents. Fifty-six percent of all respondents and 81 percent of those who have considered secondary school careers indicated that they would more strongly favor secondary school teaching with such an option. We learned through our focus groups, however, that some Ph.D.s would only consider teaching in traditional, public secondary schools, because they wanted to be able to help students in these schools. Therefore, while we recognize that states may want to concentrate Ph.D.s in magnet schools, we do not believe that they should place them exclusively in such schools. They should approach placement flexibly so as to meet the needs and interests of both Ph.D.s and school districts. Regional Clustering The committee overseeing the second phase of this study should consider regional clustering of Ph..D.s in the state demonstration programs to facilitate networking, to optimize use of laboratory resources and science teaching resource centers, and to forge links between demonstration programs and university education and science departments. Evaluation Finally, demonstration programs should include an evaluation component to be implemented simultaneously with the demonstrations. Any evaluation should have clear and well-defined goals. The phase two committee should develop an evaluation plan for each demonstration project that addresses the goals for the third phase of the study. This phase three evaluation plan must address a wide range of goals that focus on 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. Such an evaluation should focus on whether the programs in fact demonstrate that attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching is a feasible, cost-effective, and worthwhile activity. A cross-site evaluation of the state demonstration programs, including their means for recruiting, placing, and supporting Ph.D.s, would highlight strategies for attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school education that
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION were effective or ineffective in each of the states. A final report on the state demonstrations would synthesize program outcomes to assist other states that might decide to develop similar programs. Pedagogical Skills and Teaching Resources Education Courses and Certification Based on interview and survey results, 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. Our survey showed that Ph.D.s would clearly be interested in considering teaching positions if they could demonstrate teaching proficiency on the job rather than take courses in educational psychology and pedagogy first. However, interviews with administrators and Ph.D. teachers indicated that education courses do provide teachers with important pedagogical knowledge and that certification is an important step in establishing oneself as a teacher. We agree. We strongly suggest that any program designed to attract Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching have a pedagogical component but, as a practical matter, it is not likely to be attractive to our target group of already highly educated individuals unless it can be accomplished in a fairly compressed manner. We found that 44 percent of our survey respondents and more than two-thirds of the respondents who had previously considered teaching careers indicated that they would consider a teaching position if they could receive teacher certification by taking an intensive summer course in education. The percent 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. Thus, an extended period of coursework would be a strong disincentive to recruitment. Ph.D. teachers we interviewed—who strongly supported education courses and certification for Ph.D.s seeking to teach at the secondary level —indicated that they believed a streamlined course in educational theory and practice leading to certification could be developed for Ph.D.s. State demonstration programs, in conjunction with a national fellows program, if created, might provide Ph.D.s with an intensive summer program in educational theory and practice, and fund participants during this summer program. The state demonstration programs should provide a process by which Ph.D.s could obtain teaching certification in an accelerated manner. The summer program should focus on educational psychology, pedagogy, and pedagogical content knowledge. Ph.D. scientists and mathematicians could bring strong knowledge of science and mathematics to the classroom, as well as experience in scientific inquiry. To fully translate this into the inquiry-based teaching and learning that we would like Ph.D.s to bring to the classroom, Ph.D.s must be trained to understand how students learn.
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION Mentoring The committee suggests that states should select and appoint experienced teachers to serve as mentors to Ph.D.s participating in their demonstration programs. Our survey clearly indicated that Ph.D.s would be more likely to consider teaching positions if they had the support of a mentor. Almost half of our respondents, and more than two-thirds of those who had previously considered teaching indicated that they would consider such positions if they had a selected, experienced teacher to mentor them during for their first year of teaching or on an as-needed basis. Providing mentors will potentially add programmatic costs if states provide additional compensation to mentors, but the availability of mentors would be a programmatic feature that could help induce Ph.D.s to teaching careers. Science Teaching Resources One of the negative perceptions that participants in our focus groups held about secondary school teaching is that they would be working with inadequate laboratory equipment. Through our survey, however, we found that 52 percent of respondents and three-quarters of respondents who had previously considered teaching, would consider a secondary school teaching career if they received support from a regional-or university-based science resource center that provided science kits and loaned equipment. The committee overseeing the second phase of this project should work with states and school districts to determine whether the development of such science teaching resource centers would be a feasible component of state demonstration programs. We believe that they would be useful as one means for attracting Ph.D.s to secondary school teaching and also for improving the quality of science and mathematics education generally. Future Positions for Ph.D.s We strongly believe that Ph.D.s can contribute not only in the classroom, but also in other K-12 science and mathematics education positions. The most popular positions among our survey respondents were professional development (teaching science or mathematics teachers), science or mathematics specialist for a school district, working in a university-or industry-based science educational partnership, or 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, it would be useful for many of these positions, if not all, for Ph.D.s to have secondary school teaching experience first. It is important to have classroom experience before taking on broader, leadership roles.
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION Incentives The survey identified a number of incentives that respondents indicated would favorably affect their consideration of assuming a position in secondary school teaching. A description of these incentives is presented in the following pages. National Fellowship Program National Fellowship Program. Through our survey we found that two-thirds of our 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 ongoing opportunity for networking with peers. 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. For example, by providing stipends for attendance at scientific meetings, and for other activities related to the professional development of Ph.D.s and the benefit of their students. Some states will be in a better position than others to offer these financial incentives and thus to attract Ph.D.s to teaching positions. The committee does not have evidence to assess whether such adjustments by states with lower starting salaries can realistically be expected.
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ATTRACTING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PH.D.S TO SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION Peer Networking Our survey appeared to demonstrate that, as teachers, Ph.D.s would welcome the opportunity to continue to network with their professional peers. Those surveyed responded very positively to consideration of teaching if they were awarded a prestigious national fellowship that provided special opportunities for networking with peers. If a national fellowship program is developed, such a program could include an annual meeting of fellows. Whether or not there is a national fellows program, states should consider regional clustering of Ph.D.s to facilitate networking opportunities. Opportunities for Ph.D.s in secondary school education to network with others in similar positions would allow them to share ideas in curriculum development, how to present material in classrooms, and other secondary school education issues. Connections with the Larger Scientific Community State demonstration programs should provide opportunities for interactions between Ph.D. teachers and the scientific community in academia and industry. We found that 63 percent of survey respondents and 88 percent of respondents who had previously considered teaching careers would consider teaching if they were given funding and time to attend two or more scientific meetings during the school year. Even if they were given the opportunity to attend only one meeting during the school year, there was still considerable interest in teaching if this was an option. Thus, states should consider facilitating attendance at professional meetings as one feature of demonstration programs. We also found that 63 percent of respondents and 79 percent of those who had previously considered teaching would now consider teaching if they were guaranteed a summer fellowship, with travel expenses, in a research laboratory. States should consider how they could develop links to universities and businesses to provide summer research opportunities for Ph.D.s, as some already do for science teachers. This would provide an incentive for Ph.D.s to take teaching positions, but it would also provide a means for allowing Ph.D. teachers to stay involved in scientific research and connected to developments in scientific knowledge and techniques. This ability to stay current would contribute to their ability to provide quality science and mathematics education to their students. The notion that some Ph.D.s might be attracted to secondary school teaching if they could continue to participate in research over the summer is not designed to signal that research is still more favored than teaching. Rather it is designed to find a way to make teaching and research complementary parts of a career rather than a dichotomous choice. Furthermore, it would be valuable for at least some secondary school science and mathematics teachers to remain connected to research so that current methods and knowledge are circulated throughout the educational system.
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