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National attention continues to focus on the urgent need for qualified mathematics and science teachers. The need is particularly acute in high poverty schools and in the physical sciences. The National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. Initiated in 2002, the program was reauthorized in 2007 through the America COMPETES Act. The program provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. A goal of the Noyce program is to recruit individuals with strong STEM backgrounds who might otherwise not have considered a career in K-12 teaching. Scholarship and stipend recipients are required to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of scholarship or stipend support.
A new component of the 2009 program, the NSF Teaching Fellowship and Master Teaching Fellowship track, has been added to the new Noyce Program solicitation (NSF-09-513). This track supports STEM professionals (recent STEM graduates as well as STEM “career-changers”) who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master’s degree programs leading to teacher certification by providing academic courses, professional development, and salary supplements while they are fulfilling a four-year teaching commitment in a high-need school district. This new track also supports the development of NSF Master Teaching Fellows by providing professional development and salary supplements for exemplary math and science teachers to become Master Teachers in high-need school districts with a five-year teaching commitment.
Noyce Scholarship projects include partnerships with school districts, recruitment strategies, and activities to enable the Noyce Scholarship recipients and NSF Teaching Fellows to become successful elementary or secondary math and science teachers. The project leadership team is expected to include STEM discipline faculty and education faculty working in collaboration with school districts and master K-12 teachers.
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program accepts proposals representing two different tracks: The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship track provides funding to colleges and universities to provide scholarships and programs for undergraduate students majoring in STEM disciplines and stipends for STEM professionals seeking to become teachers. Phase I proposals may be submitted by institutions that have not been previously funded under the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program or are requesting funding to support Noyce Scholars from a department or academic unit or program that has not participated in a previous Noyce Award. Phase II proposals may be submitted by institutions that have been previously funded under the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program if the previous grants are near completion. Phase II proposals include support for additional scholarships and stipends as well as support to conduct longitudinal evaluation studies of previously supported students as they begin teaching. The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Track supports:
Scholarships for STEM Majors Preparing to Become Teachers: Scholarships of at least $10,000 per year (not to exceed the cost of attendance) are available to juniors and seniors majoring in a STEM discipline. Scholarships may be awarded for up to 3 years to include a fifth year of study in a post-baccalaureate teacher-credentialing program.
Stipends for STEM Professionals: Stipends of at least $10,000 (not to exceed the cost of attendance) are available for a maximum of one year for STEM professionals who hold a baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree in science, mathematics, or engineering and enroll in a teacher certification program.
Summer Internships: Proposals may include summer internships for undergraduate freshmen and sophomores to introduce students to early experiences in STEM education and provide examples of the integration of research and education. Settings for internships may include formal and informal STEM education venues, such as summer science and math camps, summer school, science museums, nature centers, or science research laboratories.
Projects include program development and enhancement as well as programmatic support for students to enable the recipients to become successful math and science teachers. For example, Noyce Scholars are often mentored by master teachers and college faculty while they are preparing to become teachers and as they begin teaching in the schools. Program components are designed to attract students into teaching, provide high quality preparation for their success as teachers, and to retain them in the teaching workforce. These activities may include early field experiences, academic courses in content and pedagogy, and professional development and mentoring support for new teachers. In addition to monitoring the Noyce Scholars and Fellows to ensure they complete the teaching requirement, all projects are expected to include an objective evaluation that provides both formative assessment of progress and summative evaluation of project outcomes.
The NSF Teaching Fellowships and Master Teaching Fellowships Track supports:
NSF Teaching Fellowships: Stipends of at least $10,000 (not to exceed the cost of attendance) and programmatic support are provided to STEM professionals who enroll in a one-year master’s degree program leading to teacher certification or licensing. Institutions provide academic courses, activities, and clinical teaching experiences for the NSF Teaching Fellows. Projects provide mentoring and professional development while the Teaching Fellows are fulfilling their four-year teaching requirement in a high need school district. The Fellows receive a salary supplement of at least $10,000 per year while they are fulfilling the four-year teaching commitment.
NSF Master Teaching Fellowships: Institutions offer academic courses, professional development, and leadership training to prepare participants to become Master Teachers in elementary and secondary schools. Fellows receive salary supplements of at least $10,000 for each year of the five-year teaching requirement.
The current portfolio of 125 active awards in the Noyce program includes a total 240 institutions of higher education and over 850 school districts in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Awards made between fiscal Years 2002 and 2008 are projected to produce approximately 4,900 new science and mathematics teachers for the nation's high-need school districts. Among the awards made in 2008 is an award to the American Physical Society in partnership with the American Association of Physics Teachers and a consortium of six PhysTEC institutions who will collectively award Noyce scholarships to 30 future physics teachers.
The current program solicitation and links to abstracts of current awards can be found on the NSF website at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5733&org=EHR&from=home.
Joan Prival (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.