State Proposals To Bolster Math and Science Teaching
Following is a summary of the variety of measures states have taken, or are considering, to improve mathematics and science education. Hope Aldrich, Peggy Caldwell, Charlie Euchner, Susan G. Foster, Tom Mirga, Sheppard Ranbom, Thomas Toch, Susan Walton, and Eileen White contributed to this report. It was coordinated by Alex Heard.
In some states not mentioned in the survey, there is no shortage of mathematics or science teachers at this time, officials said. In others, either more pressing budgetary problems made it impractical to propose any new education programs that would require additional appropriations, or plans are still in the discussion stage, their officials reported. (For related computer-literacy initiatives, see Education Week, Feb. 16, 1983.)
In Oregon, legislators are considering a bill that would begin a study of the feasibility of establishing an Oregon High School for Science and Mathematics. The bill is now in the House ways and means committee.
Washington legislators are studying a bill that would waive tuition for undergraduates in the state's colleges and universities who have declared mathematics or science education as their major.
Students who receive such a waiver would not have to pay the tuition back if they then teach mathematics or science in the state. The entire sum would be "forgiven" over a 10-year period.
The bill has passed in the Senate, and last week was still in the ways and means committee of the House.
The state education department's proposed budget also contains a request for $230,000 for inservice training for math and science teachers during the next biennium. The budget has not yet been adopted.
According to Judy L. Hartman, an administrative assistant in the department, two studies--one by the department and one by two professors at the University of Washington in Seattle--have shown that there is a need for qualified math and science teachers in the state.
In Wyoming, where teacher salaries are high compared with those in neighboring states, and where there are only about 300 math and 300 science teachers, there is no shortage in these areas, according to William M. Futrell, who serves as science, math, environmental-education, and computer-science coordinator for the state department of education.
Nonetheless, in March the legislature passed the Wyoming Secondary Education Improvement Act, which will make $250 scholarships available for math, science, computer-science and foreign-language teachers who wish to go to the University of Wyoming during the summer to upgrade their skills. The grant is to be matched by local districts, Mr. Futrell says.
In April, the Arizona legislature appropriated $400,000 for the Arizona Board of Regents to support several mathematics- and science-improvement projects, including:
$50,000 for scholarships to help send gifted high-school students to special summer programs in math and science offered at the state universities. The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit and need, said Odus V. Elliott, associate director for academic programs for the Arizona Board of Regents.
$100,000 for a loan program for people who are either seeking their initial teaching credential in math or science or who have other teaching credentials and want to retrain in math and science.
The program has a provision allowing "loan-forgiveness" in exchange for teaching, but the details of this arrangement have yet to be worked out, Mr. Elliott said.
$250,000 to support special institutes and other programs designed to "upgrade and revitalize" the skills of current math and science teachers in Arizona classrooms.
This money will be allocated to Arizona universities on a competitive basis, Mr. Elliott said. The plan will have to be approved by the state board of regents and a joint legislative budget committee, he added.
California is in need of another 1,500 qualified math teachers and another 1,000 science teachers, according to the state education department's mathematics consultant.
Most of these positions are now being filled by unqualified teachers, officials say. Some are vacant--especially positions in math--and the state is dropping some classes or offering them on alternate years to deal with the shortage.
Two major education packages are now in the legislature. Both include reforms and would be funded by a tax increase.
Both bills include proposals for a "loan-forgiveness" program for students studying to become math and science teachers, for teacher-retraining programs that would include math and science teachers (as well as teachers in other fields); and scholarship proposals for students training to become teachers.
Both packages propose funding of up to $20 million for summer programs in math and science for schoolchildren. And both establish graduation requirements, including two years of math and science; requirements have been controlled at the district level since 1968 in California.
In Colorado, which currently needs about 180 mathematics teachers, according to state officials, a task force appointed by the state department of education to examine the shortage and other problems will report on its recommendations in July.
In Oklahoma, a proposal to create a secondary school of math and science patterned after North Carolina's has passed in the House and is being discussed in the Senate.
Texas is experiencing teacher shortages in both mathematics and science, officials report. Last week, the Senate passed a bill that would pay $450-a-semester stipends for tuition costs to retrain teachers who shift over to mathematics or science from other fields.
After completing their training, the newly certified teachers would have to teach at least four semesters out of the next three years in the state or refund the stipend. The bill is now in the House.
Another bill, which has already passed in the House, would allow schools to hire math and science teachers from industry if there are no certified applicants for the openings. State certification requirements would be waived as long as the individuals had strong backgrounds in their fields, said a legislative aide who helped draft the bill.
Additional bills proposing scholarships and other initiatives are also being considered.
The Iowa legislature last week was putting the finishing touches on a bill with several provisions to improve math and science teaching, including:
A program through which the state will repay up to $1,000 per year (for up to six years) of the college loans of math and science teachers who teach in Iowa schools after graduation.
Teachers who graduate after Jan. 1, 1983, in the areas of advanced algebra, chemistry, and physics, will be eligible, according to Max Miller, administrative assistant for Gov. Terry Branstad.
Funding for loans of up to $1,000 a year to Iowa teachers with certification in areas other than math or science who enroll in school on at least a half-time basis to be recertified in these areas.
A grant of $25 in state school aid to districts for every student enrolled in advanced math and science classes. (There will also be a one-time grant of $50 for students enrolled in first-year foreign-language courses.) The $25-per-pupil grants will go to districts' general funds and will be tied to the purchase of new equipment.
A provision that awards financial bonuses (in the form of an increased factor in the state's school-aid formula) to school districts that share programs in "critical" math and science areas.
Most of these provisions will not take effect until 1985, Mr. Miller said. By then, the total cost of the program could be $3.5 million per year.
The possibility of a shortage of mathematics and science teachers and the need for general improvement in the area were pointed to in a study completed last October by the Iowa Academy of Science at the behest of Governor Branstad.
Missouri does not require advanced math and science courses for graduation, but discussions to raise the requirements are underway, said R.V. Wilson, director of teacher certification for the state department of education.
If new graduation requirements are approved and endorsed, as Mr. Wilson believes they will be, the state will be short some 1,750 mathematics teachers and up to 1,800 science teachers, he estimates.
Though the legislature has not developed any specific programs to combat teacher shortages in math and science, some efforts are currently being made by colleges of education despite the fact that they currently face "serious financial problems," according to Mr. Wilson.
Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield and Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville have established summer mathematics institutes to provide 11 credit hours of training through the summer to retrain up to 30 previously "riffed" elementary-school teachers to teach mathematics in junior high school. The colleges charge a reduced rate of $450 for the summer program. Teachers attend at no charge, because local districts pay $350 and the state department of education pays $100 per teacher.
In addition, the University of Missouri in Columbia and Maryville College in St. Louis sent applications out last week for two separate programs that will provide inservice training for a limited number of mathematics and science teachers.
In Nebraska, the state legislature is considering a bill that would provide 30 low-interest loans of up to $2,000 each for students who major in science and math education, according to Donald D. Woodburn, state science consultant for the department of education.
Mr. Woodburn said that the bill will "probably pass" in the legislature.
The loans are not forgivable. Students would have three years to pay back each year of the loan, provided they teach in Nebraska.
In addition, Mr. Woodburn said, the University of Nebraska is considering establishing a math and science center that would host one-week inservice-training institutes for teachers in the state.
The North Dakota department of public instruction is involved in a joint project with North Dakota State University to retrain teachers--mostly those with certificates in social sciences--to teach math and science.
The program will begin this summer, involving about 25 teachers at first.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joseph Crawford points out that the state's colleges and universities will produce a total of about 15 certified math and science teachers this year, so the 25 retrained teachers will have a significant impact.
In this year's session of the South Dakota legislature, a bill failed that would have provided free tuition to college students who intended to prepare for teaching careers in mathematics and science in the state.
In Illinois, Gov. James R. Thompson, who is a Republican, has proposed providing money for summer training programs for math and science teachers, as have Senate Democrats on the education committee in a more expensive bill.
The Senate bill would provide stipends for teachers to attend both summer schools and workshops during the school year.
The state board of education has endorsed the concept but is not pressing for either one of the bills, said Robert Leininger, legislative specialist for the board.
Gov. Robert D. Orr of Indiana has signed a bill to establish a "loan replacement assistance fund" to help repay the college loans of students who stay in the state to become teachers in math, science, or other "shortage areas," according to Paul W. Krohne, associate superintendent in the state education department
The Indiana State Student Assistance Commission will administer the program, which takes effect July 1. The program has been funded at $50,000 per year for the next two years.
The Governor has also signed a bill to set up a "teacher shortage financial assistance fund" for loans to teachers certified in "non-shortage" areas who wish to go back to school for recertification, Mr. Krohne said. There will be a "loan-forgiveness" provision in the program, he said. A teacher would have to repay the loan if, for example, he does not teach in the public schools three of the first five years after he graduates with new certification.
This program will cost $150,000 per year.
Last month, the Indiana state board of education increased the high-school graduation requirements in the state, and added one year each of math and science for all students.
In February, Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota requested $6.6 million over the coming biennium to strengthen education in math, science, and technology. The request included grants for teacher training, seminars, and the development of model high-school courses.
Two different versions of the proposal have since passed in both the House and Senate. The legislative bodies must reconcile their versions of the bill before the legislature adjourns on May 23, according to John C. Ostrem, director of legislative relations for the state department of education.
The House bill would provide $8.38 million for math and science, and the Senate bill would provide $5.85 million, Mr. Ostrem said.
The Senate was more conservative in its appropriations than the House because it wanted to keep its allocations close to the Governor's requests, he said.
The Senate eliminated the teacher-training component, which would have provided $1 million for training of teachers to use computers in the classroom and $250,000 for higher-education institutions to establish programs to upgrade the skills of mathematics and science teachers, because it was aware that funds may be coming from the federal government for inservice programs, according to Mr. Ostrem.
The House bill still includes provisions for inservice training, including the $1 million for computer instruction and $180,000 for state university departments of education to boost inservice programs.
In addition, the University of Minnesota has established an independent, nonprofit group--The Minnesota Alliance for Science--to coordinate math- and science-improvement efforts by business and industry, school districts, colleges of education, and public agencies. The alliance was established with a $166,000 grant from the Bush Foundation.
The alliance will, among other things, develop a plan for recruiting, training, and keeping more math and science teachers.
A new initiative in Wisconsin that could cost the state as much as $3.5 million per year is being devised by state Senator Paul Offner and will be introduced to the legislature in the next few weeks.
The plan has the full endorsement of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert J. Grover. It includes:
Two hundred grants of $3,682 each for 1984-85 to allow teachers not certified in math or science (including elementary- school teachers) to obtain certification in these subjects.
Four hundred grants of $2,975 each to allow practicing secondary science and math teachers to improve their skills.
Fifty grants of $2,975 each for vocational-education teachers to gain a greater understanding of math and science, and of ways to integrate these subjects into vocational-education programs.
Scholarships of $2,500 for 100 prospective teachers--50 in science and 50 in math--who will make a commitment to teach in these fields. The scholarships would extend for up to two years.
Support of exemplary math and science programs designed by school districts, with grants averaging $50,000 per year. The state department of public instruction would support up to six grants per year, and would allow districts to apply for renewal of funding.
Grants for 24 teachers to take two-year leaves to serve as "master" math and science teachers. They would be paid $30,000 for salary and expenses. Their responsibilities would include working with colleges to improve inservice and preservice training of science and math teachers.
Two hundred grants of up to $1,000 each to bring business and industrial practitioners of science, math, or technology into the schools to work with teachers and students.
Appointment of a Science and Mathematics Education Board to oversee the introduction and operation of the program. The board would be drawn from a wide range of public elementary, secondary, and higher-education groups as well as from business and the public at large.
If the legislature acts in this biennium, Mr. Grover says the schools can operate such a program by 1987.
Legislators think that improvement of mathematics and science education is an important issue, but like many states Wisconsin has a cash flow problem and any determination of how far the bill will go is at this point "purely conjecture," according to Amza C. Vail, legislative liaison for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
"Wisconsin is broke and anything will be difficult to get through the legislature," according to Robert Van Hoesen, a spokesman for Senator Offner.
The New Jersey legislature is considering two bills dealing with the need for more math and science teachers.
One, now in the Senate education committee, would require the state to give loans to any college student majoring in math or science at "approved" state colleges or universities.
The bill would also set up a loan-forgiveness program for college students who agree to teach in New Jersey public schools for five years.
Finally, the bill would create a loan and loan-forgiveness program for practicing teachers in other fields who wish to become math and science teachers.
The bill leaves open the amount of funding that would go to these programs.
A bill now in the Assembly higher education committee would allow the state's colleges to offer their own loans to students who plan to teach math and science in the state.
A 15-member advisory council set up last fall by Commissioner of Education Saul Cooperman and Commissioner of Higher Education T. Edward Hollander to explore the condition of math and science education in the state released its interim report early this month.
It found that shortages of math and science teachers are concentrated in the "least affluent" school systems in the state--those in rural areas and inner cities--and that increasing numbers of math and science teachers are leaving the profession, while the number of uncertified math and science instructors is increasing.
Among the measures called for in the committee's recommendations are summer institutes for scientists and mathematicians who want to teach, a statewide job bank, and inservice curriculum workshops for teachers conducted by experts from industry.
The New York Board of Regents has proposed four bills, costing a total of $1.8 million, that would:
Establish an inservice program that would retrain teachers from other disciplines to teach math and science.
Provide scholarships for prospective math and science teachers.
Create "regents' consultantships" for teachers to allow them leave to travel around the state, advising other teachers.
Establish part-time graduate fellowships for math and science teachers.
An Assembly bill is being drafted now that would retrain teachers from other fields; provide scholarships to potential math and science teachers; and set up a loan-forgiveness program for students who say they will teach in the state upon graduation.
Robert Lowry, an assistant for the Assembly's higher-education committee, said action on the proposals will be "difficult" in this session because of the state's financial situation.
In Pennsylvania, more and more school systems are requesting certification waivers from the state department of education because they do not have enough teachers certified in math or science to meet the demand, said Helen E. Caffrey, executive director of the Senate education committee.
"There is a heck of a lot in the hopper for discussion [on the topic of improving math and science education], " she noted, including a proposal that the state's student-aid agency offer forgivable loans to college students who agree to teach in the state's public schools. A bill in the Senate encourages the agency to make such a move.
Gov. Richard L. Thornburgh's fiscal 1984 budget provides for $800,000 to set up a model program to retrain certified teachers from other fields to teach math and science, and to fund pilot projects that bring public schools into cooperative relationships with private industry. As yet, there has been no budget bill in the legislature.
Maryland is short about 450 mathematics teachers and lacks certain types of science teachers, according to Arvin Blome, an associate superintendent. However, three bills that proposed forgivable-loan programs to students studying to become mathematics or science teachers were quashed in the legislature, as were bills providing for teacher-retraining programs.
The Connecticut legislature is considering two bills that would set up forgivable-loan programs, one of which would also authorize $100,000 for the retraining of teachers already certified in other subjects.
According to Scott Brohinsky, legislative assistant to the state commissioner of education, the likelihood that the Senate appropriations committee will approve the measure is slim because of its cost.
The second measure carries no appropriation level. It authorizes the use of bond funds--which were approved last year in anticipation of federal cutbacks in student aid--for the loan-forgiveness program for students. The loan would be reduced by 25 percent for every year spent teaching math, science, or industrial arts in the state.
Mr. Brohinsky said the state board of higher education would have about $300,000 to $400,000 to spend on the program if the legislature approves the use of the bonds.
This bill has passed in both the education and finance committees of the House and Senate and will soon be considered by the full chambers. The program would begin in the 1983-84 school year.
A bill is being drafted in the Maine legislature that would provide incentive grants for the preparation of math and science teachers, and for the retraining of teachers who teach math and science but are not fully qualified.
The bill would provide $120,000 to be split between the two programs. Under the incentive grants for college students, teacher candidates would be eligible for up to $5,000 per year. A percentage of that would be forgiven for each year they teach in the state.
The bill is sponsored by Gov. Joseph E. Brennan.
In a survey conducted last month by the state education department, 55 percent of districts reported difficulty in hiring and retaining science and math teachers, according to Douglas A. Stafford, a science consultant in the department.
Despite the fact that it now has a surplus of mathematics and science teachers resulting from the layoffs that followed Proposition 2, the Massachusetts legislature is considering a measure that would provide $250,000 for the retraining of teachers, particularly those with math and science backgrounds.
The measure has passed in the joint education committee and the ways and means committee of the House.
The New Hampshire legislature is considering a bill that would allow state colleges and universities to offer tuition-waiver contracts to teacher candidates in math, science, and industrial arts.
Under the agreement, the students would receive a tuition-free education if they agree to teach in New Hampshire schools and would have to repay their tuition if they graduate and fail to teach.
No appropriation level is set for the program in the bill, but Donald F. Day, a consultant for administrative services in the state department of education, said colleges and universities would lose about $300,000 a year in tuition payments if the bill passes.
Another bill--which has a better chance of passage, according to Mr. Day--would establish a forgivable-loan program for teacher candidates in math or science. The bill would cost $100,000 during the 1984-86 biennium, Mr. Day said. A teacher's debt would be reduced $1,000 for every year spent teaching a "shortage" subject.
Mr. Day noted that last year Plymouth State College, the largest producer of teachers in the state, graduated only one math major and one science major. The state department of education has conducted a statewide survey of its districts to see if they are experiencing a teacher shortage but has not completed the tabulations. The department anticipates finding a shortage in math, science (except biology), and industrial arts, Mr. Day said.
The state is also planning to raise its minimum graduation standards for students to require that they take at least two years of math and science, he added. They now are required to take only one year of each.
In Vermont, Gov. Richard A. Snelling recently signed a loan-forgiveness bill that also covers students planning to teach computer science.
The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will administer the program. The percentage of a loan that will be waived annually for a graduate teaching in the state will be determined by the number of eligible students participating in a given year but will not exceed 25 percent in one year.
Patricia Pallas, certification officer for the state department of education, said the department surveyed 13 teacher-preparation programs and 60 local superintendents to determine the extent of the teacher-shortage problem. Ms. Pallas said 37 of the 60 superintendents reported having difficulty finding qualified math teachers and 25 had difficulty finding science teachers. This year, the 13 teacher-education colleges in the state expect to graduate only 10 teacher candidates in math and four in science, she said.
Ms. Pallas said the department has just launched a teacher-placement service to help fill math and science vacancies in school districts throughout the state. The department has placed advertisements in The New York Times and the The Boston Globe and so far has received responses from 12 math and 12 science teachers who said they would be willing to relocate.
Alabama has not surveyed districts to find out whether they have shortages of science and math teachers, but enrollment trends in education schools suggest that the state will have what one state official described as "a horrible problem."
The state has recently tightened teacher certification standards by requiring more testing of candidates, which officials believe will further reduce the pool of qualified science and math teachers. Currently, few math and science students are entering programs.
The legislature, however, will not be considering any new science- and math-education initiatives, although it will have to approve new funding for the teacher-scholarship program enacted last year. Funded at $50,000, the program provides complete scholarships for students who agree to teach math or science after graduation. Education officials said they will work to have the act amended to increase funding.
In April, Arkansas legislators approved a small-scale program that will allocate existing state scholarship money to provide loans of up to 50 percent of the cost of tuition, room, board, and books to students studying to be math and science teachers. The state will forgive one-fifth of the loan for every year a student teaches in the state.
This year, the state does not have the funds to allocate more than $15,000 in the forgivable-loan program.
"We have no idea how many students will apply, and we are anticipating getting more money for the program through federal support and new allocations from the legislature next year," according to John M. Cooper, associate director for finance with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
A study conducted by Truett Goatcher, coordinator of school statistics and physical services for the state education department, showed that last September the state had 31 physics teachers, and no new teachers coming out of the education schools or re-entering the profession.
In chemistry, there were 82 teachers, only two new teachers from the state's education schools, and one teacher re-entering the profession.
Florida is in the midst of a science- and mathematics-teacher shortage that is expected to grow worse before it improves. For the 1983-84 school year, the state expects to need an additional 682 mathematics teachers and 421 science teachers, according to a recent survey by the state education department.
Those figures may be higher if the legislature approves a measure that would require stiffer high-school graduation requirements, including more math and science.
Currently, specific programs to improve science and mathematics education are being considered by the legislature as part of a larger package of education-improvement measures. Both chambers have consolidated their education-reform bills, which are likely to end up in a conference committee soon.
Only when the conference committee completes its work will it become clear which of the science and mathematics initiatives will survive. But legislative aides say there are likely to be major proposals. Among those with a good chance of passage are forgivable-loan programs for future teachers and grants to school districts for modifications to their curricula and teaching methods, and the purchase of new equipment.
Last spring, the Kentucky legislature--which goes into session once every two years--passed a bill, costing $410,000 this year, that set up a loan program for undergraduates, uncertified graduates, and teachers who want to change disciplines to become mathematics and science teachers.
Summer institutes for certified teachers who wish to earn mathematics or science credentials were established under the same legislation. Under the program, teachers are eligible for an $833 tuition loan. Each such loan would be forgiven by the state in return for a commitment to teach in Kentucky schools for one semester, according to Frank Howard, science consultant for the state department of education.
In Louisiana, which was short some 800 math teachers last year, the state superintendent of public instruction has appointed a teacher-recruitment commission which is now at work developing recommendations for a report due this summer.
In the meantime, the state board of education has allowed temporary emergency measures to let districts bring in noncertified people to teach in shortage areas.
Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina has proposed a summer program in which math and science teachers would provide instruction to education students and current teachers from other fields who want to become math and science teachers.
The Governor requested $400,000 for the program in his budget, and wants the state education department to provide an additional $460,000.
The budget probably will not be adopted until late June.
Governor Hunt is also asking for $1.1 million for a six-week program of summer employment for high-school mathematics and science teachers, and $100,000 for eight two-year projects for improving science and math programs.
South Carolina has no shortage of mathematics or science teachers yet, but as part of a general effort to improve the quality of the state's teachers the state superintendent has proposed summer institutes for the retraining of teachers certified in other areas and state funding for loan programs to encourage education students to prepare for careers in science and math teaching.
Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, as part of his 10-point education program--which has been put on hold by the state legislature--proposed requiring students to take two years of math and science instead of the one year of each now required.
The Governor made an additional funding request to pay for the additional teachers that would be needed under his proposal. He wanted a four-year budget commitment estimated to cost $7 million by the fourth year, according to a spokesman for the state education department.
A study conducted by the department showed that, from 1977 to 1981, 684 math teachers were certified to teach in the state, but that in 1981-82 only 378 of them were doing so, the spokesman said.
The West Virginia education department is planning two programs to ease a shortage of math and science teachers that has affected nearly half of the state's 55 districts, according to Robert Gabrys, director of education personnel development.
One program, for which the department is seeking foundation support and cooperation from colleges, would encourage retired scientists and mathematicians to work part-time in the schools. The new teachers would not need any teaching experience or training; training would be provided on the job and after hours by college administrators.
The other program would function like a "teacher corps," Mr. Gabrys said, by providing a team of teachers employed by the state to teach in "high-need" counties, such as those with shortages of math, science, or special-education teachers.
The state, just before the current school year, increased the number of years of required mathematics from one to two. The state board of education is considering whether to increase the science requirement from one to two years. The two actions are expected to exacerbate the teacher shortage, Mr. Gabrys said.
Science- and math-improvement bills were under consideration but did not pass during this year's legislative session. The proposals dealt with forgivable loans and scholarships for prospective teachers.
An "interim" committee of legislators, appointed by the leadership, is studying the issue and will make recommendations said Jean Lawson, a staff member of the committee. In addition to the scholarship and loan programs, the committee is interested in establishing a state math-science high school similar to North Carolina's.
High School of Science and Mathematics.
Direct monetary awards to school districts for increased numbers of students enrolled in mathematics and science classes, and proposals to increase the amount of mathematics and science required in high schools.
Many of the proposals also involve establishing computer-literacy programs for both students and teachers. (Those initiatives were detailed in Education Week, Feb. 16, 1983.)
The fate of a number of the proposals is still uncertain. Officials in several states were not optimistic that the legislation would survive, given financial conditions in their states; some of the proposals have already failed to pass.