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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Final Report to the U.S. Department of Defense on the Defense Reinvestment Initiative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9691.
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SUMMARY

The National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC), through its Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (Center), has completed the Defense Reinvestment Initiative (DRI) project funded by the Department of Defense (DOD). The key objectives of the project have been to design, plan, implement, and evaluate a strategy to prepare professional scientists, mathematicians, and engineers from military duty, defense-related and aerospace industries, and national laboratories for careers in secondary school mathematics and science teaching. The DRI Advisory Board (DRIAB) and staff, in cooperation with administrators and teachers of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and faculty and administrators at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), designed a single subject teacher credential program that is aligned with content, teaching, and assessment standards for science and mathematics education. After the cohort of participants (DRI Fellows) had completed the formal credential program, two years of follow-up professional development and support were provided. An external evaluator was retained to evaluate the program.

Early in the project, DRIAB approved the following mission statement:

The NRC’s Defense Reinvestment Initiative (DRI) will develop a modelprogram in the Los Angeles Unified School District for the transition of science andengineering professionals into careers in secondary school science and mathematics teaching in inner city schools. DRI intends to provide a unique opportunity todevelop a new teacher preparation and certification program that is aligned witheducation reform efforts in mathematics and science; create a way for professionalscientists and engineers to become classroom teachers; combine teacher preparationwith a strategy for placing new teachers in schools that are beginning to align theirscience and mathematics programs with these national education refom efforts; andenhance the classroom experience of those new teachers.

The project received sixty-three applications, forty-one applicants were selected for interview and twenty candidates and four alternates were selected for the program. Of those, fifteen opted to participate and twelve completed the one-year credential program. During the next two years, three others left the teaching profession. Thus by December 1998, nine of the original fifteen Fellows were still teaching. Most were teaching in urban settings. The total cost for the program was $1,778,000, a significant portion of which was spent on start-up costs and in stipends for the Fellows.

During the course of the program, several challenges were encountered. A major obstacle was the difficulty that the Fellows had in passing the subject matter examination, Praxis. Two of the Fellows pursued the physical science credential and the remaining Fellows pursued the mathematics credential. All of the Fellows failed to pass their initial attempt, and by December 1998, only five of the remaining nine Fellows had passed the Praxis examination. Some of mathematics Fellows have yet to pass the examination, the two physical science Fellows eventually passed the test.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Final Report to the U.S. Department of Defense on the Defense Reinvestment Initiative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9691.
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Another challenge was finding faculty and cooperating teachers who could mentor the Fellows and who modeled the various types of teaching described in the mathematics and science education standards. Some of the initial mentors were removed from this program because they themselves did not have a full California credential. Because of these issues, the professional development provided in the two years post-credential became a vital source of information and modeling on standards-based mathematics and science education.

Despite the small number of participants, some important insights were gained through this project:

  • Careful selection of potential teachers may reduce the later attrition rate.

  • Early introduction to the classroom for potential teachers, especially those who are choosing teaching as a second career, may also reduce the attrition rate.

  • Gradual transition into independent teaching was reported by the participants to ease the stress of student teaching and first year teaching.

  • Strong support mechanisms for new teachers can lead to a higher retention rate, but cannot completely overcome some of the negative aspects of first and second year teaching that are common in many school districts in the United States.

  • Even individuals with strong science, mathematics, or engineering backgrounds may have difficulty passing the subject matter examinations required in California, and programs should address this issue at the outset.

  • Individuals coming out of science, mathematics, and engineering careers represent a potential source of new teachers of science and mathematics, if they are prepared in a carefully constructed credential program that addresses the needs of mature learners.

  • Education standards can be part of a single subject credential program, but care must be taken to address the fact that many older candidates are unfamiliar with or even hostile towards some of the ideas presented in mathematics or science education standards.

Recommendations for future programs include:

  • Recommendation 1. Carefully select candidates for teacher credential programs, even if it means that the program will not be completely filled.

  • Recommendation 2. Encourage qualified candidates to enter teaching as second career program by providing adequate financial incentive.

  • Recommendation 3. Provide early and frequent entry into the classroom for the potential teachers.

  • Recommendation 4. Present both the recommended pedagogy and content matter together when it is relevant as well as in ways that model good teaching practices.

  • Recommendation 5. Foster a sense of professionalism and importance of career-long learning in new teachers.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Final Report to the U.S. Department of Defense on the Defense Reinvestment Initiative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9691.
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Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Final Report to the U.S. Department of Defense on the Defense Reinvestment Initiative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9691.
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Page 8
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