University launches effort to boost ranks of science and education teachers

By Staff

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will join other leading universities working to increase the number of math and science teachers in the United States by offering the nationally regarded UTeach program this year.

UCCS recently was selected as an expansion site for UTeach, a successful program developed in 1997 at the University of Texas. The program was replicated in 13 universities in 2008-2009 and is being expanded to 20 universities across the country this year as part of the National Math and Science Initiative. Last month at a special event at the White House, it was announced that UCCS will be added to the program in 2010-11 along with universities in Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

At UCCS, the faculty and leadership of the College of Letters, Arts and Science and College of Education collaborated to recommend the UTeach Program as a way to develop more science and math teachers and to provide professional development for teachers already in Colorado classrooms. The University of Colorado at Boulder offers a similar program, CU Teach.

UCCS faculty members Catherine Kelly, an associate professor of education, and Rinaldo Schinazi, a math professor, will co-direct the program with collaboration from Barbara Frye, an assistant professor of education and director of the teacher education and licensure program.  The program is designed to help students earn bachelor's degrees in math or science and to complete courses required to be licensed as a Colorado elementary or secondary school teacher at no extra time or cost. The UTeach program also will work closely with the UCCS Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education, which seeks to enhance the work force of scientists and engineers.

"A hallmark of the Teacher Education and Licensure Program at UCCS is culturally responsive teaching," Kelly said. "This partnership with the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences will infuse these tenets across content areas and positively affect student outcomes."

Schinazi noted that U.S. students are behind those in other industrialized nations in math and science knowledge.

"I believe that, as a state university, one of our missions is to supply Colorado with high-quality K-12 educators," Schinazi said. "There has been a shortage of math teachers in Colorado and the nation for some time. UTeach is a great way to address the problem."
Funding for the new program, which will begin with the fall 2010 semester, was provided by a private anonymous donor.

The UTeach program allows students to graduate in four years with deep content knowledge as well as teaching certification. More than 90 percent of students who participate in the UTeach program become teachers, with more than 80 percent remaining in the classroom after five years, according to program administrators.

More than 2,100 math and science majors are currently enrolled in the program. Projections indicate that by 2018, UTeach programs around the country will have produced an estimated 7,000 new math and science teachers. Those teachers will have affected more than 20 million students in the course of the new teachers' careers.