Patrick-Murray Administration Awards $2M to Prepare Next Generation of STEM Teachers

UMass Lowell to Implement Innovative National Program in MA to Increase the Number of Highly Qualified STEM Educators

12/14/2011


Contact: Heather Johnson at 617-979-8352
                        
BOSTON – Wednesday, December 14, 2011 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced a $1.6 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Lowell for the creation of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher preparation program in Massachusetts.

This initiative, outlined in the Commonwealth’s successful Race to the Top plan, will bolster the Administration’s efforts to increase the number of highly qualified STEM teachers in Massachusetts.  UMass Lowell will administer the program in partnership with UTeach, a university-based secondary STEM teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin. 

"In our knowledge-based economy, it is critical that we get our young people engaged in the STEM fields," said Governor Deval Patrick. “This program will help us attract highly-qualified teachers who are passionate about STEM education and can help expose students to new skills that will prepare them for success.”  

“Raising awareness about STEM education is a major part of our Administration’s efforts to prepare students for careers in STEM related fields,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.  “By partnering with UMass Lowell and UTeach, Massachusetts will deliver highly qualified professionals who will not only teach STEM, but also help ignite students with a spark to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math and participate Massachusetts’s future workforce.”

The three-year, $1.6 million award to UMass Lowell will prepare up to 250 new teachers in STEM teaching fields. The UTeach model includes a focus on programmatic sustainability, which will enable the program to continue to prepare teachers in STEM areas even past the three-year grant period.

“Massachusetts is a world leader in STEM fields, and encouraging educational development in those areas is a top priority,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “We have jobs to grow, achievement gaps to close and the challenge of inspiring our students to embrace the STEM fields which are so rapidly becoming vital to our society and to our economy.”

This grant, administered through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), was awarded to UMass Lowell through a competitive grant process. ESE selected UMass Lowell as the host campus for the UTeach program in Massachusetts, and will provide an additional $400,000 in Race to the Top funds to the UTeach Institute to provide support and technical assistance to UMass Lowell for implementation. 

"UMass Lowell has trained the Commonwealth's teachers for more than a century and we look forward to the opportunity to build on that legacy through our faculty's expertise in education, science, technology, engineering, math and liberal arts," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. "The UTeach UMass Lowell program draws on our strengths in research and experiential education, working in partnership with the Lowell, Methuen and Lawrence school districts. Already, we have enrolled our first group of students for the spring semester. Our STEM majors are extremely eager to participate in this innovative teacher-training program while completing their undergraduate degree."

"A major goal of our winning Race to the Top application was to ensure that every child in Massachusetts is taught by a great teacher," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "The UTeach model will help us to attract, develop, and retain the next generation of exceptional educators in the STEM field."

UTeach is designed to attract a wide range of STEM majors into secondary teaching careers, to prepare them with an advanced field-intensive curriculum, and to promote retention in the field through highly customized induction support services and ongoing professional development. 

Among the elements of the UTeach program are: (1) collaboration among the colleges of Science, Education, Liberal Arts, and Engineering; (2) active recruitment of STEM majors to take two introductory UTeach courses free of charge; (3) early and intensive field experiences that continue throughout the program; (4) compact degree plans that allow students to graduate with both a math or science degree and teacher certification in four years; (5) a focus on developing a deep understanding of STEM content material; (6) intensive coaching by master teachers; (7) program faculty who are actively engaged in STEM research and in the teaching and learning of STEM content; and (8) integrated, research-based professional development courses focused on teaching both math and science.

Overall, 90 percent of UTeach graduates enter the teaching profession, more than 80 percent who enter the teaching profession are still teaching five years after graduating and roughly 45 percent teach in high-need schools.