University Courses on
Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge

Context: Supply and Distribution of
Endorsed Math and Science Teachers

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Nationally, only two-thirds of grades 7 to 12 math and science classrooms were taught by teachers with certification or majors in those fields in 2000 (Blank, Langesen, Laird, & De Mello, 2003). Geography, salary, and working conditions influence teacher recruitment and retention. Within states, distribution of qualified math and science teachers is uneven; under-prepared teachers are more likely to teach students with lower socioeconomic status. Also, the type of teacher preparation impacts retention rates. Retention rates after three years are lower for graduates of shorter teaching programs than for graduates of regular 4- and 5-year teaching programs (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 2003).

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 aimed to provide, among other things, federal incentives and mandates for states and their school districts to improve the quality of teachers, especially those in the most difficult-to-staff schools. When NCLB took effect (in school year 2002-2003), the law required all teachers in Title I programs to have a full certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and to demonstrate competence in every core subject they taught. cite These teachers would then meet the NCLB definition of “Highly Qualified.” All teachers of core academic subjects in K-12 public schools were required to meet the Highly Qualified requirement by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

In 2002-03, Chicago Public School teachers met the NCLB Highly Qualified standards as follows:

Grades 1-5 General Education 93%
Middle Grades (6-8) Mathematics 53%
Middle Grades (6-8) Science 60%
High School Mathematics 88%
High School Science 81%

The shortage of qualified CPS high school science teachers varied by discipline. The district especially needed teachers in physics and earth/space science, and chemistry and biology teachers to a lesser extent. CPS middle grade math and science classrooms held the fewest teachers who met NCLB standards, and the Chicago Math & Science Initiative (CMSI) focused on this area from 2002-2008.

Core subjects included English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts (music and art), history, and geography.

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