UWG to receive grant for science, math teacher education

From Staff Reports education@newnan.com The University of West Georgia is among three Georgia colleges selected for grants of up to $1.4 million to replicate the UTeach program. UTeach is a math and science teacher preparation program based at the University of Texas at Austin. Columbus State University and Southern Polytechnic State University also received grants. Part of Georgia's Race to the Top plan, grant funds competition was open to universities across the state.
"This program will address the critical shortage Georgia faces in producing STEM teachers," said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. "The most important thing we can do for students and Georgia's future is to ensure that we have a quality teacher with strong content knowledge and a passion for helping students learn in every classroom. UTeach has seen great success elsewhere and I look forward to seeing it implemented in our state." The UTeach program was established in 1997 as a new and improved way to introduce undergraduate math and science majors to secondary school teaching. By offering compact degree plans, early teaching experiences, guidance by expert master teachers, and financial assistance for undergraduate students. UTeach provides a platform for raising the quantity and quality of mathematics, science, and computer science teachers in secondary schools. "I'm committed to the success of UTeach at our institutions and am pleased with this partnership and the promise it holds for continuing to expand STEM education in Georgia," said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby. UTeach certifies more than 80 students every year at the University of Texas. More than 90 percent of these UTeach graduates immediately go on to teach in their respective fields, and over 80 percent continue five years or more after starting, compared with only 60 percent nationally. Additionally, almost half of UTeach graduates teach in schools where more than 50 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunch. The UTeach Institute, in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, was created to expand and replicate UTeach at universities across the United States. Georgia officials worked closely with the UTeach Institute throughout the grant competition to assist universities in developing strong proposals and to select the winners. The Race to the Top (RT3) fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to improving schools. The fund was made available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas: • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; • Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools. Georgia was awarded $400 million to implement its RT3 plan in August 2010. The state's reform plan focuses on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria, rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based salary increases, and more effectively using data to inform decision-making, among other things.

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