Another Day, Another Campus for ‘UTeach’

By Sean Cavanagh — September 10, 2009 1 min read
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The “UTeach” model for training aspiring math and science teachers will be launched at a state university outside of Dallas, as part of a growing effort to replicate the program on college campuses around the country.

UTeach, developed at the University of Texas at Austin, places an unusually strong emphasis on the recruitment of math and science majors to the teaching profession. It heavily involves faculty from the math and science departments at the Austin campus in teaching future educators in both core content and pedagogy—as opposed to leaving those duties to faculty from the education school—and it also gives enrollees a lot of exposure to the rigors of teaching through classroom observation. Backers of UTeach say its record of producing teachers who stick with the profession is especially strong; about 80 percent are still in their teaching jobs after 5 years, according to program officials.

A few years ago, a nonprofit in Dallas, the National Math and Science Initiative, set out to replicate that model around the country by offering to give grant support to teacher colleges to refashion their systems in the UTeach approach. This week, the NMSI awarded a $1.4 million grant to establish a UTeach-style program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Much of the funding will come from the Texas Instruments Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The CEO of NMSI is Tom Luce, who served as a top education official in the administration of President George W. Bush.

In addition, existing UTeach-style programs at the University of North Texas and UT-Dallas will be expanded, with the backing of the TI Foundation.

Since 2007, the UTeach model has been replicated at 13 institutions around the country with NMSI support. By the initiative’s count, that means 1,500 math and science majors have joined the profession.

If you’re at a campus that has implemented the UTeach model, what have been the results so far? What are the drawbacks and benefits to overhauling a teacher education system? Is it worth the investment?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.