TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

For those who want to teach: UTeach

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Looking for an effective math teacher? What about a skilled science instructor? Need both? UTeach programs have you covered.

That's the takeaway from a remarkably positive study of seven UTeach programs that prepare some of the most effective math and science teachers in Texas. Ben Backes and his colleagues at CALDER found that, compared to other high school teachers in the state, graduates from the original UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin produce as much as four months of additional learning in math and nearly six months of additional learning in science. For high school algebra and biology, the difference in student outcomes for UTeach and non-UTeach teachers is larger than the difference in outcomes between new teachers and what we typically see after a teacher has ten years of experience!

Established 20 years ago by UT Austin and now in place at 45 institutions in 21 states and the District of Columbia, UTeach not only produces more effective teachers but also produces a lot of them. STEM teacher production has grown substantially at many of the institutions, in some cases even doubling output since implementation of UTeach. By 2020, UTeach programs will have produced over 8,000 math and science teachers.

What's the secret? Unlike most traditional teacher prep programs (which recruit for those who wish to teach), UTeach programs seek to interest in teaching those headed to math and science majors. As early as their first year, program participants complete two field-based courses, and if they opt to continue, all professional coursework is STEM-specific. Teacher candidates can complete the UTeach program in four years, graduating with their math or science degrees along with certification.

While the study's authors concede the difficulty of conclusively ascribing outcomes to the UTeach model—as opposed to other institution-level effects—the central finding is clear: school leaders who hire UTeach grads are making a pretty good bet.