For over thirty years, teachers, administrators, business leaders and policy makers have expressed concern about the competitiveness of U.S. students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. Although national and state policies have emphasized STEM education, progress has been slow. A major component of increasing students’ STEM achievement is raising the quantity and quality of STEM teachers. The Indiana General Assembly has established the Indiana STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund to award competitive grants to STEM teacher training programs.
The Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) is uniquely positioned to coordinate a coalition of independent institutions to work together to increase the number of highly qualified teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Indiana. ICI proposed the creation of an initiative called STEM Teach I and II to bring together a group of private colleges and universities to offer STEM certification to in-service teachers.
To administer STEM Teach, ICI contracted with the Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis for specific development as well as organizational and administrative support for the grant. CELL will also organize, facilitate, and convene meetings focused on specific STEM areas with representatives from multiple colleges and universities.
ICI member institutions are combining efforts to offer specific programs targeted to three tracks of certification – in-service teachers seeking to strengthen classroom STEM instruction, teachers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees seeking to add a content areas to their current licenses, and teachers with master’s degrees seeking graduate level courses in a STEM content area for dual credit credentialing.
In-service teachers will register through an online process. ICI’s goal is to offer as many spaces as possible to meet current STEM needs. In-service teachers successfully finishing a STEM Teach course or workshop receive completion awards.
Through the collaborative process proposed in STEM Teach I and II, the pipeline for preparing STEM teachers will be significantly expanded in a relatively short time. By using a combination of delivery methods offered in different regions of the state, teachers will have ample opportunities to bolster their STEM content knowledge. In turn, Indiana schools and students will benefit from a richer education that leads to more careers in STEM fields.