UCA Receives $2.3 Million Grant to Prepare Math, Science Teachers

The College of Education has received notice from Congressman Tim Griffin’s Office that the University of Central Arkansas will receive a $2.3 million Transition to Teaching federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare math and science teachers for North Little Rock and Little Rock school districts.

UCA is one of 30 schools in the country and the only university in the state selected for the teacher training project for the 2011-12 academic year.

The university will receive the $2.3 million grant over a five-year period.

The five-year program supports efforts to recruit mid-career professionals and recent graduates with degrees outside of education and then help these recruits become teachers through alternative certification routes. The university and school districts will work together to recruit, prepare, place, and retain mathematics and science teachers to work in the partner high-need schools that have documented the need for teachers in these subjects.

Teacher candidates are required to teach in high-need schools for at least three years. UCA is expected to recruit 120 new teachers to be certified by the end of the five-year grant period.

Dr. Carolyn Williams, College of Education faculty, wrote the grant proposal. Dr. Williams and Dr. Diana Pounder, Dean of the College of Education, will serve as co-project investigators.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to enhance the quantity and quality of STEM school educators in central Arkansas,” said Dr. Pounder.

The College of Education is fortunate to receive this grant that builds on the strength of its existing Master of Arts in Teaching program, said Dr. Williams.

“These funds will support our efforts to recruit talented mathematics and science teachers to UCA and to enhance their desire and abilities to work with students in our urban school districts,” she said. “We started working on this grant in 2006, the same year the College of Education received approval for our Master of Arts in Teaching program. This grant will encourage more interested professionals to transition to teaching and increase our cadre of teachers for schools that need them the most.”

Congressman Tim Griffin commended the university for its efforts.

“Math and science is the foundation for tomorrow’s innovation and job creation, and we are losing ground to countries like India and China when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education,” said Congressman Griffin. “I applaud UCA for working to develop stronger STEM programs, so we can remain competitive and the world’s leading economy.”

The participating teachers will earn preliminary teaching licensure and credentials in one year while working as university intern teachers in the targeted partnership school districts. Candidates will engage in high quality, innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics workshops educational opportunities and professional development activities through the UCA STEM Institute. These activities will be aligned with state and national initiatives to include common core standards in mathematics. The partnership program is an ongoing collaboration among the school districts, the College of Education and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UCA.