- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1135621
- First Name Andre'
- Last Name Green
- Discipline Math
Andrea Kent, University of South Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org; Madhuri Mulekar, University of South Alabama, email@example.com; Susan Ferguson, University of South Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia Faith, University of South Alabama, email@example.com; John Cleverdon, University of South Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pathways to Mathematics (PTM) program emerged to address the shortage of teachers in the South Alabama region in both urban and rural schools. The program drew from the partner Pathways to Science program (PTS) that launched prior to the mathematics project. The original PTS project was designed to help fill the need for science teachers in the South Alabama region. Over the last two decades, shortages of certified teachers in mathematics have plagued schools in Alabama. Rural and high need urban schools have had a difficult time recruiting and retaining highly qualified mathematics teachers. It was in this context in 2011 that the PTM program was funded at the University of South Alabama. The program was geographically well positioned to serve both the largest school district in Alabama, Mobile County Public Schools, and several other districts (including several rural districts) that were in need of certified science teachers.
The PTM project has three goals associated with it. These three goals center on increasing the numbers of mathematics teachers in the South Alabama region. Each goal is described in greater detail: 1. PTM will prepare a total of up to 25 mathematics teachers (over the five-year period) who will be certified to teach mathematics at the secondary level. PTM seeks to create a steady stream of future alternative master’s degree mathematics education majors, which in turn will increase the number of mathematics teachers available to teach in local school systems. 2. PTM will enhance middle and high school student achievement by providing certified mathematics teachers in high needs schools that currently lack certified math teachers. 3. PTM will create a replicable model to provide ongoing mentoring and professional development for novice mathematics teachers that will increase the likelihood that they will be retained and become career teachers.
The program trains teachers using the Alternative Master’s program to train second career candidates and those who already had degrees in mathematics or a related field who want to become mathematics teachers. The program has used the alternative master’s approach so that the teachers that graduate have advanced work in mathematics and an advanced certificate.Lastly, the goal of PTM is to develop professionals who value and are engaged in further work in mathematics. Hence, the additional coursework in mathematics required through the Alternative Master’s program helps foster their engagement and value for mathematics.
While progress has been made toward the goals, the evaluation team is in the process of creating a valid rubric for examining the impact of the teachers on students, and there is a need to follow up with PTM graduates through interviews and examination of their effectiveness with their students. The project has increased the number of mathematics teachers in the region, and has the potential to add more.
The model used to develop the PTM was based on modifications of the model of professional development that was part of the companion PTS project. That model used frequent meetings with mentors and program staff, encouraged of professional development through participation in conferences and workshops, connections of new candidates to completers of the program, and efforts to establish communities of scholars. It also features graduates of the program serving as supervising teachers for new cohorts of students. The model works by keeping students connected to the program and the wider world of education in their content areas. Of those who were part of the PTS program, 95% are still in the field. It is too early to be sure that the same result will be found with the PTM program, but it is hoped that the impact of the collaborative nature of the cohort of teachers will help teachers persist in the field. We will need to track persistence and professional growth for a longer period.