UWG Gains Grant to Improve STEM Education

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gov. Nathan Deal has announced that the University of West Georgia is among three universities in the state that will receive grants of up to $1.4 million to replicate the UTeach program, a highly successful math and science teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin. Funds for these grants were included in Georgia's Race to the Top plan and the competition was open to universities across Georgia.

“This program will address the critical shortage Georgia faces in producing STEM teachers,” said 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."

UWG is joined by Columbus State University and Southern Polytechnic State University in receiving the grants.

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.

About Race to the Top

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 improve 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;
  • 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.