Friday, October 30, 2015

Recap: Project Tomorrow at the 2015 California STEM Symposium

This is a special blog post from Project Tomorrow Direct of Advancement, Greg Nicholson:

We enjoyed seeing many colleagues and friends yesterday at the 2015 California STEM Symposium, and making new friends in our two sessions:  “The Gender Divide and Digital Learning in STEM Fields” and “Recruiting the Next Generation of STEM Teachers through YouthTEACH2Learn.”  Both topics have been much in the news lately, and so interest and attendance was high. 

In the second session, we discussed the fact that the teaching shortage, especially in STEM disciplines, has reached crisis proportions.  In California, according to the California Department of Education, the school year began with 21,500 open teaching positions, while only 15,000 new teaching credentials are issued per year.  This is a result, in part, of a 55% reduction in enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California in recent years.  Unfortunately, the problem is a national one; from 2010 to 2014 there has been a 30% drop in enrollment in teacher education.  The predictable result is an increase in the number of emergency credentials issued to underqualified teachers: up 36% in one year in California.

Project Tomorrow’s YouthTEACH2Learn (YT2L) program is addressing this crisis by moving the starting line for teacher recruitment from college to high school.  YT2L is a science and math education program in which high school students take a full year class to learn about teaching math and science. The students develop a series of hands-on science and math lessons and teach these standards-based lessons in local elementary school classrooms on a regular basis throughout the school year, increasing the time that elementary students have in authentic science and math instruction and allowing high school students to gain real world experiences within teaching.

In our session yesterday, we shared newly released YT2L program results from 2014-15.  Some of the highlights include:
  • Increased student interest in teaching: 63% indicated that they are now interested in teaching after taking the course (51% were considering it before)
  • 93% of participants were comfortable managing a classroom; teaching skills improved on all indicators as a result of the program
  • Plans for attending a 4 year college rose from 87% to 94% from the beginning of the program to the end
  • 84% of elementary teachers said their students were more excited about learning science after YT2L high school students taught them science lessons
Thank you to everyone who attended our sessions, and especially to the teachers and students of YouthTEACH2Learn!  We will continue to share our results, and look for more information on student interest in teaching careers as a result of a special question on Speak Up 2015, which is available now!