Aspire Institute Helps Develop Action Plan to Boost Math and Science Performance of Teachers

May 28, 2009

In a front-page story last week, the Boston Globe reported that "nearly three-quarters of the aspiring elementary school teachers who took the state's licensing exam this year failed the new math section...Education leaders said the high failure rate reflects what they feared, that too many elementary classroom and special education teachers do not have a strong background in math and are in many ways responsible for poor student achievement in the subject."

In a subsequent op-ed on May 21, Solomon Friedberg cautioned, "The nation is not producing enough well-qualified teachers of math and science. And too many of the ones it does produce are leaving the classroom after a few years. We cannot continue to lead in math and science without substantial and immediate changes nationwide."

Anticipating this need, the Aspire Institute of Wheelock College convened several local teacher preparation programs in April to explore how to improve Massachusetts teachers' knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, this working group, known as the Higher Education STEM Partnership, is developing a plan to strengthen STEM preparation for pre-K through third-grade teachers.

To read the preliminary position statement, click here.

The Partnership hopes that this call to action will inspire legislators, educators, and other leaders to make positive change that will benefit both students and teachers.

The initial recommendations of the Higher Education STEM Partnership include immediate strategies such as developing working guidelines and standards for content knowledge and instructional practices, enhancing professional development for current teachers, increasing math and science coursework and providing better MTEL preparation for aspiring teachers.

Long-term proposals include establishing math and science standards for preschool to grade three teachers, and expansion of pilot initiatives to broaden in-service and pre-service mathematics and science education proficiency.

The Higher Education STEM Partnership will meet this fall to develop working guidelines and chart of course of action for implementing their recommendations as they continue their work.

The following schools and organizations comprise the Higher Education STEM Partnership:

Boston Public Schools
Boston Teacher Residency
Boston University
Brandeis University
Clark University
Emmanuel College
MA Department of Early Education and Care
MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
Middlesex Community College
Roxbury Community College
Science Club for Girls (Cambridge, MA)
Simmons College
Urban College of Boston
Wheelock College

"Aspiring teachers fall short on math." Boston Globe. May 19, 2009.
"The crisis in math, science." Boston Globe. May 21, 2009.

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