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Want to Produce Good STEM Teachers? This Program Is Getting Results

Texas science and math teachers who are trained in the UTeach preparation program are substantially better at raising student test scores than other teachers in the state, a new study shows.

In fact, the difference between the performance of UTeach graduates who teach in high school and their non-UTeach peers is greater than the gap between new teachers and teachers with 10 years of experience. 

These results are a promising bright spot on the teacher-preparation landscape. Aspiring teachers enrolled in UTeach earn a degree in mathematics or science alongside a teaching credential in four years.

The program recruits science and math majors as early as their freshman year, and candidates can go into classrooms in their first semester of the program to get an early taste of whether they like teaching. As the candidates progress through the program, they also take classes on pedagogy and have additional student-teaching experiences—all while completing coursework for their STEM degree. 

It's a streamlined path to obtaining a teaching certificate—and the study's results found that "condensing these courses has not resulted in detrimental performance once teachers enter the classroom," the authors write.

UTeach started at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. Since then, it has expanded to 45 universities in 21 different states. The study notes that the program is expected to produce more than 9,000 math and science teachers by 2020.