Teachers supported by the Knowles Teacher Initiative are improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in U.S. high schools.
The Knowles Teaching Fellows Program, the Foundation’s signature program, awards exceptional young men and women with five-year, early-career Fellowships, empowering them to become primary agents of educational improvement. These “backbone” teachers reach thousands of students each year, take on leadership roles improving math and science education from the classroom and strengthen the teaching profession.
THE CHALLENGE: Lack of student interest and proficiency
For at least 30 years, there have been claims about the need for increased scientific, technological, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capacity in the United States, and warnings about the inability of the current educational system to meet that need. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2010) has argued that the lack of STEM capacity in the United States is not only an issue of student proficiency, but of a lack of student interest in STEM fields as well.
THE PROBLEM: A shortage of quality teachers
A growing gap between retiring and beginning teachers is weakening the teaching profession. High attrition rates means teachers leave the profession before developing expertise and the pool of potential mentors for novices is dwindling. At the same time, children of color and children living in poverty are disproportionately taught by the least experienced teachers. And the STEM teacher workforce is struggling to retain individuals with deep content knowledge when many other professions can offer higher salaries.
THE SOLUTION: A national network of STEM teacher leaders.
The work of KSTF is aimed at creating a stable, sustainable corps of outstanding teachers, who have the capacity and inclination to drive positive change in the United States’ educational system.
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