School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

New UTEACH-DALLAS program invited to compete for a National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) grant for up to $2.4 million

UTeach-Dallas program will increase quantity and quality of science teachers, following the highly innovative and successful teacher preparation program model started at UT Austin in 1997

According to many experts, one of the nation's greatest economic and intellectual threats is the declining number of qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

In an effort to reverse this growing trend, in 1997, The University of Texas at Austin brought together a group of experienced secondary teachers and administrators to create an innovative teacher preparation program based on national standards, educational research, and their years of experience in the K-12 setting. The end result is a program called UTeach.

Following the successful UTeach model started at UT Austin in 1997, the UTeach-Dallas program, co-directed by scientists and professors in the Department of Science/Mathematics Education Dr. Homer Montgomery and Dr. Mary Urquhart, will attract outstanding college students majoring in traditional technological fields into 4th-12th grade teaching careers (eventually expanding to K-12) in the sciences and mathematics, tackling the challenge of increasing the quantity and quality of qualified science instructors by assisting undergraduate students in becoming certified to teach the sciences without adding time to their proposed degree.

The UTeach program model is revolutionary in that it encourages undergraduate math and science majors to enter the teaching profession by offering an integrated teacher certification along with financial assistance, early teaching experiences, and follow up mentoring.

"Teachers without a strong academic background in the subject taught rely more heavily on textbooks, are often uncomfortable answering student questions, and may pass along their own misconceptions, dislikes, and discomfort to their students."

-Mary Urquhart, Ph.D., Co-Director, UTeach-Dallas

UTeach retention rates have been significantly better than those of peer groups not participating in the program. The success is attributed to field experiences, a cohort approach that fosters close, interdependent relationship among students, and guidance from nationally recognized faculty and master teachers. UTeach in Austin has been graduating 60-80 new science and mathematics teacher each year.

The UTeach Institute and NMSI plan to award grants for up to $2.4 million spread over five years to 10 colleges and universities in order to replicate UTeach in fall 2007. Twenty-seven candidates have been identified who have the necessary resources to successfully implement the program. UTeach Dallas is among these candidates. The first conference for applicants will he beld from June 13-14 in Austin, TX.

The $127 Million Commitment to the NMSI will be contributed by the Exxon Mobile foundation. NMSI is a non-profit entity that was created in response to the National Academies' 2005 report titled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." The report indicates that improving students' performance in math and science is the most effective way to increase the nation's competitiveness in the world arena. UTeach Dallas will officially launch Fall 2007.

  • Updated: December 19, 2007