1
Introduction

Education has long been both a source of pride and strength for the United States and a topic of concern. The support of free public schools for all children in each state was an early demonstration of the nation’s belief in and commitment to education. Criticism of those schools and the quality of that education has been a part of the nation’s dialogue for almost as long. As the twenty-first century begins, much of the concern about the nation’s education is focused on the quality of science, mathematics, and technology instruction and learning from kindergarten through high school (K-12). This report proposes a national demonstration program to help address that concern.

A NEED AND AN OPPORTUNITY

In a world in which science and technology play an ever-increasing role in determining a nation’s economic and social health, U.S. children are falling behind their international colleagues. Results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1995 showed that, while U.S. fourth-graders scored above the international average in mathematics, eighth-graders scored slightly below the average and high school students scored near the bottom in both science and mathematics compared with their counterparts in other countries (National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 1999a). When the TIMSS was repeated in 1999, U.S. students’ performance compared to 1995 was unchanged, aside from



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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology 1 Introduction Education has long been both a source of pride and strength for the United States and a topic of concern. The support of free public schools for all children in each state was an early demonstration of the nation’s belief in and commitment to education. Criticism of those schools and the quality of that education has been a part of the nation’s dialogue for almost as long. As the twenty-first century begins, much of the concern about the nation’s education is focused on the quality of science, mathematics, and technology instruction and learning from kindergarten through high school (K-12). This report proposes a national demonstration program to help address that concern. A NEED AND AN OPPORTUNITY In a world in which science and technology play an ever-increasing role in determining a nation’s economic and social health, U.S. children are falling behind their international colleagues. Results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1995 showed that, while U.S. fourth-graders scored above the international average in mathematics, eighth-graders scored slightly below the average and high school students scored near the bottom in both science and mathematics compared with their counterparts in other countries (National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 1999a). When the TIMSS was repeated in 1999, U.S. students’ performance compared to 1995 was unchanged, aside from

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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology a significant increase in the performance of eighth-grade black students in mathematics (NCES, 2000). Similar information comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In the 1996 NAEP, less than one-third of all U.S. students in grades 4, 8, and 12 performed at or above the “proficient” achievement level in mathematics (Reese et al., 1997) or science (National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), 2001). Although the recently released NAEP 2000 results for mathematics indicate that performance of students in grades 4 and 8 has improved significantly over the last decade (the results for grade 12 were mixed), once again less than a third of all students performed at or above the “proficient” achievement level (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). In science, the results “show no significant changes in grades 4 and 8, and a decline in performance at grade 12 since 1996” (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Four decades after Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy made science education their top priority for American education and a decade after President George H.W. Bush, the nation’s governors, and business leaders declared, “[b]y the Year 2000 . . . United States students will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement” (U.S. Department of Education, 2000), the country is still struggling to find ways to lead children to perform at high levels in science and mathematics. The lackluster performance of U.S. students in science and mathematics has many causes, and it is not the purpose of this report to review them save for two: (1) K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education suffers from critical shortages of qualified teachers, and (2) there is inadequate support for teachers’ professional development, for effective curriculum development, and for strengthening connections between K-12 education and higher or informal education. At the other end of the spectrum of U.S. education, the nation has an outstanding record in producing some of the world’s most renowned scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, as well as a large number of highly qualified and productive doctorates. Yet several recent studies indicate that the number of postdoctoral fellows in the United States has been growing and that they, as well as PhDs who do not undertake postdoctoral work, have experienced difficulty in finding permanent careers in either academia or industry (National Research Council (NRC), 1998, 2000c). Although the situation is most pronounced in the biological sciences, significant numbers of PhDs in other scientific fields also report disappointment in their prospects for finding careers as university faculty (NRC, 2000c).

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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology This mismatch between the number of PhDs being produced and the number of faculty and industry positions for them is causing PhDs in all fields to reconsider their career options (Fiske, 2001; Kreeger, 1998; NRC, 1995, 1996a; Rosen and Paul, 1997; Robbins-Roth, 1998; Tobias et al., 1995; Nyquist and Woodford, 2000; Nyquist, 1999). Moreover, results from Phase I of this project suggest that a significant number of PhDs might be attracted to careers in K-12 education under some conditions (see the discussion in the next section). This situation affords the nation a golden opportunity to consider applying the talents of these PhDs to address an important need facing the nation’s schools—improving K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education. In a recent editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, articulated an idea for rebuilding the nation’s public school systems around a revitalized teaching profession. That editorial included the following vision of this opportunity: [W]e should remove artificial distinctions among teachers. The idea that Ph.D.’s belong in higher education and M.A.’s and B.A.’s belong in elementary and secondary schools does not make sense. It should not be considered a step down for a Ph.D. to teach in a public high school. . . . Colleges should urge Ph.D’s to consider teaching in our high schools, and high schools should welcome them. Encouraging more Ph.D.’s to become teachers in public schools would greatly enrich those programs. (Gregorian, 2001, p. B7) THE COMMITTEE’S TASK This report covers the second phase of a three-phase project to explore the possibilities and design of a demonstration program to attract PhDs in science, mathematics, and engineering to careers in K-12 education. The goal of this project is to create a cadre of educators who are deeply knowledgeable about science, mathematics, and engineering and deeply committed to K-12 education—who will be capable of helping children learn and understand these key aspects of the modern world. Phase I of the project undertook a major national survey of science and mathematics graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to ascertain the conditions under which they would be interested in teaching careers at the

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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology secondary school level. (See Appendix A for the executive summary of the Phase I report.) This report marks the completion of Phase II. Its aim is to inform policy makers at both the state and federal levels of ways to attract and retain PhDs in K-12 education as well as to present frameworks for the design and evaluation of demonstration programs to accomplish that goal. The charge to the Phase I committee directed it to consider only issues in secondary education; the charge to this committee explicitly includes all of K-12 education. The committee agrees that the evidence it examined favors a demonstration program at the secondary level, and that it would be appropriate to focus the initial demonstration at that level. However, the committee also believes that science, mathematics and engineering PhDs could make important contributions to primary education. Given that conviction and the committee’s charge, the scope of this report is K-12, rather than “secondary” education. In the Phase I survey, 36 percent of respondents expressed interest in careers in secondary education. The survey also asked “Would you consider other full-time positions in K-12 science and mathematics education?” Although few of the respondents expressed an interest in becoming K-6 teachers, between 55 and 82 percent of the respondents interested in secondary school teaching positions indicated that they were interested in becoming science or mathematics specialists for a school district, science resource teacher for a school; or taking positions in curriculum development, teacher professional development, science education partnerships, university-based science education research centers, and science museums or similar institutions (NRC, 2000a). With this preliminary evidence in hand, the National Research Council NRC broadened the scope for Phase II to include careers in K-12 education other than secondary school teaching. In response to a suggestion from the NRC Governing Board Executive Committee, the committee also broadened the scope to include PhDs in engineering. As part of its charge, the committee was directed to hold a public workshop to examine the results from the Phase I study and to use those data to develop plans for demonstration projects. That workshop was held on June 2-4, 2000, in Seattle, Washington. The workshop brought together PhDs in science, mathematics, and engineering with careers in K-12 education; state policy makers; teachers; teacher educators; as well as representatives of teachers’ professional organizations and unions, federal and private funding agencies, and science and mathematics professional societies. They and the members of the committee discussed the key issues in

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Attracting PhDs to K-12 Education: A Demonstration Program for Science, Mathematics, and Technology considering a demonstration program to recruit PhDs in science, mathematics, and engineering to work in K-12 education including: needs in the K-12 system that might be addressed by such a program; specific K-12 education careers that might be open to program participants; what further preparation PhDs would need for successful careers in K-12 education; recruitment of local program providers and of Ph.D. applicants; and potential sources of funding for various components of the program. The agenda and participant list for the workshop are in Appendix B. In addition to the valuable information gained at the workshop, the committee used various sources of data and information in its work, including the national consensus standards for K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education; previous NRC reports on issues of teacher supply and the improvement of science, mathematics, and technology education in grades K-12; and the general research literature on K-12 education, graduate education, and postdoctoral experiences. It also relied heavily on the results of the Phase I part of the project. Nevertheless, designing a demonstration program like the one proposed in this report involves many factors for which the empirical research base is only suggestive. Thus, the committee also relied on the experiences of its members and other experts in relevant organizations, along with the contributions of the workshop participants. In this respect, it is similar to a recent report that lays out the design for a new approach to education research (NRC, 1999d). Chapter 2 of this report discusses the need for qualified teachers and improved teacher-support structures in the nation’s schools, focusing on science, mathematics, and technology subjects. Chapter 3 presents information on young PhDs’ interest and retention in K-12 education. Chapter 4 then presents the committee’s proposal for a national demonstration program to attract and retain PhDs in K-12 education.