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ERIC Number: ED536070
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Slow off the Mark: Elementary School Teachers and the Crisis in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education
Epstein, Diana; Miller, Raegen T.
Center for American Progress
One can't throw a stone without hitting a STEM initiative these days, but most science, technology, engineering, and math initiatives--thus the STEM acronym--overlook a fundamental problem. In general, the workforce pipeline of elementary school teachers fails to ensure that the teachers who inform children's early academic trajectories have the appropriate knowledge of and disposition toward math-intensive subjects and mathematics itself. Prospective teachers can typically obtain a license to teach elementary school without taking a rigorous college-level STEM class such as calculus, statistics, or chemistry, and without demonstrating a solid grasp of mathematics knowledge, scientific knowledge, or the nature of scientific inquiry. In this report, the authors focus on the selection and preparation of elementary school teachers, most of whom will be required to teach mathematics and science when they enter the classroom. It is elementary school mathematics and science that lay the foundation for future STEM learning, but it is elementary school teachers who are often unprepared to set students on the path to higher-level success in STEM fields. In order to improve STEM learning, the selection, preparation, and licensure of elementary school teachers must be strengthened. The authors make five specific recommendations in this report: (1) Increase the selectivity of programs that prepare teachers for elementary grades; (2) Implement teacher compensation policies, including performance-based pay, that make elementary teaching more attractive to college graduates and career-changers with strong STEM backgrounds; (3) Include more mathematics and science content and pedagogy in schools of education; (4) Require candidates to pass mathematics and science subsections of licensure exams; and (5) Explore innovative staffing models that extend the reach of elementary level teachers with an affinity for mathematics and science and demonstrated effectiveness in teaching them. As the authors will demonstrate, improving the ability of elementary school teachers to teach the facts, concepts, and procedures critical to success in STEM fields is required if the nation is to succeed in the globally competitive arena of the 21st century. (Contains 39 endnotes.)
Center for American Progress. 1333 H Street NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-682-1611; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Center for American Progress