Measuring the Quantity and Quality of the K-12 STEM Teacher Pipeline

February 04, 2016
Measuring the Quantity and Quality of the K-12 STEM Teacher Pipeline

In this paper, Suzanne Wilson, a nationally renowned expert on teacher preparation and professional development, reviews recent efforts to measure aspects of teaching and teachers’ work that are difficult to quantify but that are more closely related to student learning outcomes than the most commonly used proxies for teacher quality. Wilson then describes the range of learning opportunities available to STEM teachers and the data available on the frequency and distribution of those teacher learning opportunities.

STEM teachers are essential to any effort to improve U.S. STEM education, both for students who eventually will work in STEM-related fields and for the general public. Efforts to enhance the quality of STEM teachers have focused on attracting more academically capable people to the field, improving the quality of teacher education programs, supporting teachers’ continued learning once they have joined the profession, or rewarding and retaining the most effective teachers. In its report Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education, the National Research Council (2013) proposed the development and use of two indicators of STEM teacher quality:

  • Teachers’ science and mathematics content knowledge for teaching
  • Teachers’ participation in STEM-specific professional development activities.
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