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Chuck Carney
School of Education

Jocelyn Bowie
College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New IU program offers fast track to teaching for math, science majors

Agreement allows graduate degree, licensure in five-year sequence for sought-after teachers

March 24, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Chemistry and math majors now have a more efficient path to earning both a master's degree in education and teacher licensure under a new agreement between the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.

The university has approved a proposal for a coordinated program allowing students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in math or chemistry and a Master of Science in Secondary Education while also becoming licensed to teach in a five-year program. The program will expand routes to teaching for students who have a solid background in their content area.

Science Girls

"The School of Education and the College have had a long history of collaboration to prepare excellent teachers," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the School of Education. "This program builds on that collaboration to provide another option for students in math and science."

"The need for skilled and knowledgeable educators has never been greater," said Bennett I. Bertenthal, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. "These new joint-degree programs will appeal especially to students who would like to become certified to teach high school science and math, but would also like the benefits of majoring in science or math. The College of Arts and Sciences looks forward to partnering with the School of Education to provide more efficient and more effective degree programs for future teachers."

To enter the program, majors in chemistry and math apply for the master's in Secondary Education during the fall semester of their senior year. If admitted, selected spring coursework would count toward both the completion of their undergraduate degree and the beginning of their master's. Upon completing the required coursework including student teaching, graduates could earn a bachelor's and master's in five years and earn teacher licensure.

The program provides an incentive for math and science students to seek a teaching license, according to Bob Sherwood, associate dean for research in the School of Education and professor of science education, because the program would reduce the time to earn both a master's and teaching license.

"We're hopeful that they'll say 'Hey, mom and dad, if I go an extra year, I can get my master's degree and a teaching license," Sherwood said. He added that the program should help the School produce more math and science teachers. "We're only going to have about 22 science teachers prepared on the Bloomington campus this year with licensure. We think this program will certainly help increase that number in the next three to four years."

Nationally, well-qualified math and science teachers are at a premium. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Business-Higher Education Forum, there will be a shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the country by 2015. The need is just as acute in Indiana, where middle and high school teaching jobs are listed among the Indiana Department of Workforce Development's "Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs" for 2009, an annual listing of jobs with high growth and higher than average wages.

Faculty in the departments say they'll begin immediately encouraging students to consider the program.

"I can think of particular instances in the past of people that this degree would have fit perfectly," said Kent Orr, professor of mathematics and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences. "These are extraordinary mathematics students who want to make a difference in the lives of young people."

The resulting bachelor's and master's degree will prepare teachers who are well-grounded in their content area. Orr said he has often counseled students who expressed a desire to teach that their only option was to pursue their undergraduate degree in the School of Education.

"But now these students are going to come here and they're going to talk to us and I'm going to say, you have options," he said.

There is an added benefit for the math and chemistry programs in turning out more teachers who will help prepare future IU students.

"It's completely cyclical," said Cathrine Reck, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Chemistry, in the College of Arts and Sciences. "They go back to the classroom, they teach high school students. Those people become college students. They go to graduate school. And those graduate students might come to our department and work in someone's lab as a graduate student."

Orr said the purpose is to produce people with extraordinary skills in the field who also have strong educational skills and "can go out there and just be real forces for math and science education."

The first students will be able to apply for the program starting in the fall semester. The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education are exploring other subjects for similar coordinated programs.