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5. In elementary school offerings, science content is nearly nonexistent. Teachers are ill-prepared, resources are lacking, and the focus is on the so-called "basics" which have tended to ignore science.

The_Shortage of Science and Mathematics Teachers


The shortage of science and mathematics teachers is documented by looking at supply and demand. The NSTA fall 1981 survey of 600 colleges and universities which prepare science and mathematics teachers showed a shocking ten-year decline: a 79 percent decline for mathematics and a 64 percent decline for science. (See attached paper by Shymansky and Aldridge.) Data from the NSTA fall 1982 survey show a further decline. (See attached graph.) According to NCES data, the decline over this same period for teachers in other fields was only about 25 percent, and the decline in students was even less, about 20 percent.


The demand for science and mathematics teachers has been documented by Howe and Gerlovich at Iowa State in surveys of state science supervisors. NSTA derived "demand" data from surveys of secondary school principals. Our fall, 1982, survey showed that secondary schools employed 2 percent more science and mathematics teachers in 1982-1983 than in the previous year. With widespread calls for increased requirements for science and mathematics in high schools, we can expect further increases in the demand.

Use_of Ungualified Teachers

Given that the supply of science and math teachers has dropped so drastically, how can the schools be finding teachers to fill classes? They have been employing ungualified or undergualified teachers. Last year half of the newly employed science and mathematics teachers in the U.S. were unqualified. Hiring such teachers is made possible through provisional or emergency certification, or through extremely low certification standards. The emergency measures have made possible the reassignment of teachers from physical education, home economics, social science, elementary education, and other fields where surpluses exist. A more common problem is transferring teachers within science, that is, from biology to chemistry and physics, without sufficient qualifications in those subjects. Over 30 percent of all science and mathematics teachers in grades 7-12 are unqualified or are severely underqualified to teach the subjects they have been assigned.

When promising but underqualified teachers are taken from the elementary school and reassigned to secondary schools, the situation is doubly tragic. The secondary school science or mathematics students are instructed by an unqualified teacher while the elementary school students lose a teacher with promise in mathematics or science. The situation at the elementary school

level is especially serious, and we need teachers at that level with interest in and some knowledge of science or mathematics.

Principals are faced with an overall declining secondary school enrollment, a surplus of teachers in some areas, and a shortage of science and mathematics teachers. Who can blame a principal who reassigns a long-time faculty member from a non-science field into a science or math slot when no qualified teacher can be found? Moreover, even if a qualified person were available, tight budgets and teachers' contracts may preclude a principal from hiring a new staff member; thus the principal is forced to meet the need through staff reassignment.

Not Offering Needed Science & Mathematics Courses

The demand for science and mathematics teachers is even greater than indicated by open positions. According to NSTA's fall, 1982, survey results, for lack of teachers and/or resources, some 32,000 classes in science and mathematics were needed, but could not be scheduled in 1982-1983. Instead, some 640,000 children who wanted to take science or mathematics were required instead to take courses in other subjects for which no teacher shortage existed. Of the 17 million children in grades 8-12 this school year, 6.3 million are not taking science, and 6.4 million are not taking math.

Magnitude of the Problem

Supply of New Teachers

Approximately 4,000 of the 7,000 persons prepared to enter secondary school science and math teaching positions for 1982-1983 actually accepted teaching positions. The schools hired 12,500 entirely new science and math teachers to replace those who retired or left for non-teaching employment. In addition, 8,700 changed employment from one school to another. These data suggest that some 8,500 teachers, or 68 percent of those employed, were from sources other than colleges and universities that train teachers. These sources include business and industry, but mainly other teaching fields, like physical education, social sciences, home economics, etc. Many states are considering increases in science and math requirements. A one-course increase in either science or math in the nation's schools would require a 20 percent increase, or 40,000 more science and math teachers. Where will they come from?

Ungualified and Undergualified Teachers

Some 30 percent of the present secondary school science and math teachers are unqualified or underqualified, amounting to 60,000 teachers. Since half or more of the newly employed science and math teachers are unqualified, within 6 years, half of all such teachers in the schools will be unqualified or underqualified. Even if federal or state scholarships or loans could be awarded by the fall of 1983, before these students could graduate, 4 years later, the number of unqualified or underqualified teachers will have reached 44 percent.

Re-Training Ungualified Teachers

There are about 10,000 secondary school science and math teachers in the U.s. who are completely unqualified. Those in public schools have no certification, not even on an emergency or provisional basis. These teachers typically have never studied the subject they have been asked to teach, or those studies have included at best one or two introductory college courses.

If these teachers are to remain in the classroom, they need an intensive program of evening and Saturday course work during the school year, plus full-time study during the summer. They need individually designed programs of two or three years in duration, to allow for sequences of courses in math and science.

Since about 2,000 of the 12,000 science and math teachers who are newly employed each year are completely unqualified, the number needing retraining will increase by 2,000 per year until the supply of qualified teachers can be increased. This will require retraining a number larger than 10,000 and over a longer period of time than three years.

Upgrading Marginally Qualified Teachers

There are about 50,000 underqualified or marginally qualified science and math teachers in secondary schools of the u.s. This number is increasing dramatically each year. These teachers could be helped greatly by summer institutes, workshops, short courses, or part-time study during the academic year.

The Outdated Curriculum

The lack of sufficient numbers of trained teachers is compounded by the mismatch between science and mathematics courses and the needs and interests of students.

The science and mathematics courses in U.s, schools today are, for the most part, only slightly modified versions of those developed after Sputnik by teams of scientists and teachers.

Yet, as Jerrold Zacharias, MIT physicist, and originator and developer of one of the first National Science Foundation course projects, PSSC Physics, said,

"We had aimed only at the college-bound and college students
because we could not do everything at once" (in testimony
before the Subcommittee on science, Research, and Technology of
the Science and Technology Committee on February 19, 1980).

Our present science and math courses neglect the needs and interests of the vast majority of students. They focus on pure science and are largely devoid of practical applications, technology, or the relevancy of science to society's problems. They do not prepare people to enter the myriad of -non-science occupations, which require general technological knowledge for which science is the base. Nor do these courses properly take into account the utilization of the computer and modern electronics.

Technically well-trained people are needed by emerging or rebuilding industries to solve the economic problems we face.

The science and math courses in most schools have instructional and laboratory materials of the 60's, and they are obsolete! They don't even meet the needs now of those students who would become scientists and engineers.

New Instructional Strategies

The last ten years have provided much new information concerning the way humans learn. The current literature provides exciting new information concerning the adolescent mind, and how it grows and develops. Information from studies in cognitive psychology need to be applied in school science classrooms. Various new studies on the structure of the sciences themselves suggest different approaches to instruction, and new ways for science teachers to approach their tasks. Use of current research in all areas is needed as teachers are retrained.

Federal state, and Local Responsibilities

The delivery of pre-college education is clearly a state and local responsibility in the United States. Teacher salaries, as well as normal supplies, materials, and equipment for science and math instruction must remain a local and state responsibility.

The federal responsibility for pre-college science and math education should be mainly at two agencies: The Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

The Department of Education, through grants to state and Local Education Agencies, and through programs at NIE, can play an important role in addressing the science education crisis. In both the Administration's initiatives for 1984, and in H.R. 1310, funds are provided to address the science and math teacher shortage. A few states also have recently begun programs to increase the supply of such teachers. As a general principle, we would agree that pre-service training of science and mathematics teachers should be mainly a state and local responsibility, although in times of crisis, state and local funds should be augmented by federal support through the Department of Education. We would further agree that routine and continual in-service education programs for science and math teachers should be a local responsibility. but, again, in times of crisis, funding should be augmented by federal support through the Department of Education. The private sector should focus mainly on local and community assistance through provision of matching funds, resources, and personnel. Tax credits (as in the Glenn-McCurdy bill) would help stimulate private sector support.

In educational research, we believe that the NIE should be principally responsible for basic research on learning and on the use of various technologies to facilitate learning. The NSF should be responsible for research on the structure of course content in science and mathematics fields as well as research on the applications of basic research in learning science and mathematics

that would result from NIE-supported basic research.

Curriculum research, which would focus on selections of content and sequence, R-16, should be a responsibility of the NSF. But creating curricula--that is, the selection of content and decisions on sequence, must be a local and state responsibility.

Why_Support of Researche Development, i Teacher Training Programs Should be Lodged at NSF

In deciding on NSF's responsibilities, we would agree with Senator Jake Garn's recent statement in a letter to the NSF director:

"The specific functions that we believe are appropriate for NSF are: materials development; public awareness and motivation; teaching and materials demonstrations; evaluation of materials and teacher training; research in learning and cognition; and high technology applications."

The NSF responsibility and authority is described in Public Law 507-81st Congress (64 STAT. 149, s. 147), Section 3.(2):

"The Foundation is authorized and directed (1) to initiate and support. . .science education programs at all levels. .

In spite of lack of action on the part of the National Science Board in carrying out this statutory obligation, we in science education contiue to believe firmly that the original reasons for lodging science education programs at NSF are still valid and important.

We must develop science and mathematics education materials and train our teachers in a partnership with those scientists who create the knowledge. That knowledge, and the methods used by scientists to acquire new knowledge, are constantly changing. Science and mathematics teachers need direct, cooperative relationships with scientists and mathematicians, and involvement of research scientists in science education is essential. The NSF is a small independent agency with a reputation for administering programs of very high quality selected on merit.

Even though the National Science Board has been slow to respond to the present crisis, as indicated by the lack of NSF initiatives, scientists at universities and in the private sector, as well as those at the AAAS and the National Academy of Sciences, have shown great interest and concern. Many of these persons are actively working to improve the situation.

The Need for New Course Material

The NSP course development projects of the 60's were excellent for their purpose. They developed courses, materials, and labs to prepare persons who would become research scientists and engineers. Until they became obsolete--which they did about ten years ago--these courses were excellent. But they evolved into

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