Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that Old Dominion University (ODU) will be the first post-secondary institution in Virginia to implement an innovative program pioneered in Texas to increase the number of high quality mathematics and science teachers in the Commonwealth's middle and high schools. The program, known as "MonarchTeach", will integrate requirements for majors in mathematics and science with specially designed teacher-preparation courses.
MonarchTeach is part of Governor McDonnell's 'Opportunity to Learn' education reform agenda and is part of the overall effort to provide a high-quality education to all students in Virginia to best prepare them for the top jobs of the 21st Century. The Mathematics and Science Teacher Education Initiative was approved by the 2012 General Assembly along with $700,000 in funding. The initiative is one of several Governor McDonnell measures focused on improving instruction and creating new learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics - subjects known collectively as STEM.
"The pace of innovation around the world is breathtaking and for Virginia to remain competitive in the global economy, our young people must possess the STEM skills employers demand," McDonnell said. "This means the Commonwealth's public schools must have a reliable supply of excellent mathematics and science teachers. This initiative is another step towards ensuring that every student graduates high school either college or career ready, and has the opportunity to learn from the very best."
Implementation will begin in August with the enrollment of up to 20 students. Participants completing the four-year MonarchTeach program will graduate in spring 2017 with undergraduate degrees in their disciplines as well as Virginia teaching licenses with corresponding endorsements.
ODU will offer two of the required courses in pedagogy tuition free as an incentive for mathematics and science majors to enter the MonarchTeach program. The university is also creating a menu of scholarship and internship opportunities for participants.
"This initiative is designed to make teaching a more attractive option for mathematics and science majors by removing barriers and providing incentives while maintaining undergraduate rigor in the disciplines studied," Secretary of Education Laura Fornash said.
MonarchTeach is modeled after the University of Texas at Austin's successful UTeach program. UTeach - which is now offered by 35 colleges and universities nationwide - has produced more than 1,100 mathematics and science teachers since 1997.
"At Old Dominion University, our commitment to improving K-12 STEM education will be greatly enhanced by offering high-quality, evidence-based educator preparation programs like MonarchTeach," said ODU President John R. Broderick. "This program will rely on the collaboration of outstanding faculty members from our College of Sciences and College of Education in preparing students for careers as highly effective STEM teachers."
"MonarchTeach will prepare teachers who think like scientists and mathematicians - and who possess the classroom skills to create engaging, student-centered learning environments," Associate Professor of Mathematics Education and project investigator Mary Enderson said.
The Virginia Department of Education, in its annual reports on teacher supply, consistently identifies middle and high school mathematics and science as critical shortage areas and school divisions increasingly look to other states to fill vacancies in these content areas because of a dearth of new, instate candidates. For example, in 2011, Virginia's teacher-preparation programs produced only 10 fully licensed physics teachers.