White House Announces Plans to Create a National Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering Master Teacher Corps

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Publication date: 
7 September 2012

On July 18, the Obama Administration announced the  President’s plan for the creation of a national Science, Technology,  Engineering, and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. 

“The STEM Master  Teacher Corps will begin with 50 exceptional STEM teachers established in 50  sites and will be expanded over 4 years to reach 10,000 Master Teachers. These  selected teachers will make a multi-year commitment to the Corps and, in  exchange for their expertise, leadership and service, will receive an annual  stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary. The Administration will  launch this Teacher Corps with the $1 billion from the President’s 2013 budget  request currently before Congress,” states a White House press release. 

The White House intends to engage teachers at all levels  in this program, including those in elementary schools and those who teach  at-risk students.  Another key intent of  this program is that Master Teachers will promote “deep learning over teaching to the test.”  The White House intends to assess the  effectiveness of the program by talking to educators as the Corps is designed  and then developing metrics for evaluating its effectiveness with further input  from educators.

Funding to improve STEM teaching and learning was  included in the President’s budget request for the Department of Education.  This funding, in the form of competitive  grants, is intended to help school districts “implement high-quality plans to establish career ladders that  identify, develop, and leverage highly effective STEM teachers.”  The White House is hoping to work with  Congress to eventually fund the program at the intended level of $1 billion  over the course of a decade. 

The President’s budget request for FY2013 includes a $5  billion request for funding a new program, the Recognizing Educational Success,  Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project, aimed at  re-envisioning the teaching profession.  According  to the White House Press Release:

“As part of the RESPECT project, the STEM Master Teacher Corps will be  supported by the U.S. Department of Education, and established in collaboration  with independent, non-profit organizations and local public-private  partnerships between STEM-related businesses and industries and school  districts.  Key parts of the plan include:    • A rigorous selection of the best and brightest math and science teachers  from across the country:  The STEM Master Teacher Corps will be  established in 100 sites – each with 50 exceptional STEM teachers – and will be  expanded over 4 years to reach 10,000 Master Teachers. Accomplished teachers  will be selected for the STEM Master Teacher Corps through a highly competitive  process, based on demonstrated effectiveness in teaching one or more STEM  subjects, their content knowledge, and their contributions to the continuous  improvement of teaching and learning both within their schools and across the  community of STEM teachers. The selection process will be administered locally  or regionally, but aligned to a set of national benchmarks.    • National recognition and rewards, including compensation to keep Corps  members in the profession: STEM Master Teacher Corps members will benefit from  a professional compensation structure that will make their profession more  competitive with alternative careers, keeping the best teachers in the  classrooms where they are needed. STEM Master Teacher Corps members will make a  multi-year commitment to the Corps and, in exchange for their expertise,  leadership and service, will receive an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top  of their base salary.  This recognition further raises the prestige of the  Corps members, enabling America’s classrooms to attract and secure the best  talent in the STEM education profession.    • Corps members as a national resource, for their schools and for other  STEM educators: STEM Master Teacher Corps members will be called to serve their  profession and the nation, through an ongoing commitment to professional  learning.  They will build a community of teaching practice where they  live, helping students excel in math and science while taking on leadership and  mentorship roles in their schools and communities.  Corps members will  lead ongoing professional meetings and teacher development activities; assist  their schools and school districts in evaluating and providing feedback to  other teachers; and validate and disseminate effective practices to improve  STEM instruction. They will participate in regular convenings to engage in  professional development and share best practices; deepen their subject matter  expertise; consult with experts in teaching and learning; and improve their  instructional leadership and pedagogical content skills.”

As of the July 27 deadline for applications, over 30  school districts submitted applications for funding which would go towards  identifying and compensating “highly  effective teachers who can model and mentor STEM instruction for their teaching  peers, providing those teachers with additional compensation, recognition, and  responsibilities in their schools.”

The STEM Master Teaching Corps stems from a key  recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and  Technology, which called for a national STEM Master Teacher Corps “to recognize and help retain America’s most  talented STEM teachers, build a community of practice among them, raise the  profile of the STEM teaching profession, and leverage excellent teachers to  collaborate with their peers to strengthen STEM education in America’s public  schools.”

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