The mission of the Center is to improve STEM literacy for all people. The Center has successfully developed a variety of grant-funded programs and research initiatives to fulfill its mission. An organizing focus for this work began in 2007 when, with funding from the Kauffman Foundation, the National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI) and the University of Kansas, the UKanTeach Secondary STEM Teacher Preparation program was launched. UKanTeach is a four year program of study in which undergraduate STEM students complete their BS or BA in a STEM discipline along with the UKanTeach program courses, to obtain a Bachelor’s degree that includes eligibility for a secondary teaching license. The program originated from a partnership between the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), the KU School of Education (KU SOE) and Kansas school districts.
The UKanTeach Secondary STEM Teacher Preparation program is based on recommendations put forth by the National Academies of Science in the 2005 blue-ribbon panel report, "Rising above the Gathering Storm." UKanTeach is a partner in a national reform effort that is an innovative and experimental approach to STEM teacher preparation. The program has now been undertaken by 39 universities. Built on the prior work and the successful practices of the UTeach program (UT Austin) combined with innovations established by KU UKanTeach, the program has created a unique model that meets the learning and teaching needs of our undergraduate STEM students. UKanTeach critical program elements include:
- an intense, hands-on coaching model engaging students from initial recruitment, induction support, with in-service professional development and ongoing support throughout their career
- UKanTeach program Scope and Sequence Matrix that encompasses all courses in the program, creating strong program coherency and the avoidance of unwarranted duplication across courses
- early and ongoing field experience leading to a capstone student teaching experience
- clinical faculty (Master Teachers) experts in teaching working with the students throughout their program
- a very strong advising, tracking and academic support program
- an engaged partnership with regional STEM classroom teachers
- clearly developed partnerships with regional school districts
The UKanTeach program outcomes, as measured by the success of our students, are remarkable. UKanTeach attracts top-quality students to teaching; students with an average GPA that exceeds both CLAS and university student averages and students whose general and the math ACT scores exceeds KU undergraduate and statewide student averages. UKanTeach has awarded Robert Noyce Scholarships (NSF) to twenty-one (21) UKanTeach students from fall 2009 through spring 2014. One UKanTeach Physics student has been selected as a university Goldwater Scholar for 2013. Student outcomes to date include UKanTeach students who have taken the Praxis PLT (pedagogy) test of which 22% earned a score that ranks them within the top fifteen percent of all test takers (all years). UKanTeach students who have taken the Praxis Content test in their disciplines, 35% earned a score that ranks them within the top fifteen percent of all test takers. In the fall of 2010, Kansas Department of Education launched the Kansas Performance Teaching Portfolio (KPTP), an extensive teaching performance evaluation completed during student teaching. Thirty-five (35) percent of the UKanTeach students who have taken the KPTP have earned exemplary scores, with one perfect score.