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New University of Texas program seeks to make STEM professionals into teachers

New University of Texas program seeks to make STEM professionals into teachers

Austin American-Statesman

Keri Heath
October 26, 2022
Concerned about the decline of teachers in the public education, coordinators of an undergraduate teaching program at the University of Texas have created a new course aimed at getting people in science and technology fields into public classrooms.
Program creators hope the new condensed course will encourage people who already hold degrees to move into education at a time when school districts around the country are facing teacher hiring and recruitment challenges.
The UTeach program is meant to attract people who hold a degree in a STEM field, which means science, technology, engineering and math, said Carrie Culpepper, program manager of UTeach.
“STEM teacher shortages have been an issue for years,” Culpepper said.
Since the pandemic began, however, districts have been struggling to attract and retain teachers.
Statewide, the attrition rate for teachers has gone from 9.6% in 2007 to 11.6% this year, according to the Texas Education Agency.
The UTeach program will seek out people who already have STEM degrees and put them through a condensed, semesterlong program that will grant graduates a teaching license, Culpepper said.
Unlike some other quick certification programs, this course will make sure its students have time in classrooms to observe and teach lessons, she said.
“Teaching is very hard, and learning to teach is very complicated and important,” Culpepper said.
Districts typically prefer to hire teachers who have classroom experience, and giving students the chance to actually teach also improves industry retention, she said.
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