Who is entering the science teaching corps in Florida’s K-12 schools?

Georgia State University Professor of Economics (and former FSU economics professor) Tim Sass has completed a paper commissioned by the National Research Council’s Committee on Strengthening Science Education Through a Teacher Learning Continuum titled “The Market for New Science Teachers in Florida”.  Relative to other states, Florida has a very accessible teacher certification process – it is relatively easy to become a science teacher in Florida.  Tim’s paper gives us a glimpse of the the individuals entering our state’s K-12 science teacher corps.

Three results from Tim’s paper jumped out at me:

  •  The average SAT score (math plus critical reading) for those entering Florida’s science teaching corps through the traditional route (that is, through a college- or university-based degree program) is 1068.  For those entering through an alternative certification route, it is 1065.  For those entering through what Tim calls the “individual evaluation” route is it 1021, and those becoming certified in Florida on the basis of being certified in another state it is 980.  These scores are quite low compared to what we would expect from, say, competitive engineering majors.  (See table FL3 on page 34)
  • First-time teachers who enter the science teaching corps through the alternative certification route and who earn physics certification most often have their bachelors’ degrees in…Food Science.  Those who enter through the “individual evaluation” route most often hold bachelors’ degrees in electrical engineering  (See table FL2 on page 31).
  • From 1999 to 2005, traditional science teacher preparation programs produced a total of 21 physics teachers who became Florida-certified.  (Do the math – that’s a small number!)
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