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August 15, 2011
Volume 89, Number 33
p. 39

Supporting Future Chemistry Teachers

Mary Kirchoff

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Science education is under stress. The fields of chemistry and physics face “some shortage” of teachers at the secondary level, according to a 2009 report by the American Association for Employment in Education. Furthermore, numerous reports have cited the need for improved science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for teachers. The 2007 National Academies’ report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” identified the need to “increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K–12 science and mathematics education.” One technique suggested in the report was to use scholarships to attract additional science and math teachers.

On June 6–7, the American Chemical Society hosted a workshop for chemistry and physics faculty members active in teacher preparation. The participants gathered to consider the role of the chemistry community in addressing high school chemistry teacher preparation. The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation through its Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

Participants discussed the roles, strengths, barriers, and opportunities for chemistry departments in preparing future high school chemistry teachers. Workshop findings and outcomes will guide the formation of an ACS-led initiative in chemistry teacher preparation, the Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition, which will be modeled after the successful Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC). PhysTEC is a project of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers and is designed to improve and promote the education of future physics and physical science teachers. APS and the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities have actively advanced and supported ACS’s efforts to organize dialogue and activity related to the preservice preparation of future high school chemistry teachers.

ACS began its formal efforts in this area with a statement on preservice education passed by the Society Committee on Education in August 2009. Then-ACS President Thomas H. Lane solicited the support of chemistry departments, more than 100 of which have now signed onto this statement. By signing the statement, departments indicate their support for and commitment to the preservice education of K–12 science teachers, especially those who teach chemistry.

Additionally, ACS makes a significant investment in preservice education through its ACS-Hach Programs, which provide scholarships to chemistry majors at select land-grant universities who are pursuing certification to become high school chemistry teachers, as well as scholarships for second-career chemistry teachers. The society is also currently partnering with Kennesaw State University to promote the university’s Noyce II Teaching Fellowship Program to ACS members considering second careers as high school chemistry teachers.

ACS hopes these collaborative efforts will help ensure that our teachers and students are prepared to excel in the 21st century.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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