Synergistic Teacher Preparation: The Winding Road to Teaching Science and Mathematics in Rural Schools

Synergistic Teacher Preparation: The Winding Road to Teaching Science and Mathematics in Rural Schools

Tracy J. Goodson-Espy (Appalachian State University, USA) and Tracie McLemore Salinas (Appalachian State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3068-8.ch019


Rural schools face unique challenges in recruiting well-trained STEM teachers for grades 6-12. Working with teacher education institutions, rural school districts can inform pathways to teacher licensure and therefore assist in crafting ones that better align to rural contexts. This chapter explores synergistic relationships among various STEM teacher pathways including graduate certificates in STEM education, the Robert Noyce scholarship program, licensure-only and lateral entry programs, and online vs. face-to-face teacher pathways. Institutional barriers to change in teacher education and ways of overcoming these challenges are also described.
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Talented and qualified teachers are necessary to prepare a nation’s citizens to live educated and healthy lives and to prepare the nation to compete in a globalized economy. Communities must be able to recruit and retain teachers generally and, in particular, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers. As researchers explore the supply pipeline for STEM teachers, in the U.S. and internationally, they find that there are complex social, cultural, and economic factors in play determining who chooses to become a teacher. Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez (2013) continued their prior work concerning the relationships between teacher salaries and student achievement (2011), by investigating how various nations viewed the status of teaching—surveying 1000 respondents across 21 nations. They created a Global Teacher Status Index that sought to:

  • 1.

    Rank primary school teachers against other professions

  • 2.

    Rank secondary school teachers against other professions

  • 3.

    Rank teachers according to their relative status based on the most similar comparative profession

  • 4.

    Rate perceived pupil respect for teachers (p.12).

Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez described that understanding the complex relationships involved in how different nations and societies value teaching may be organized under the three themes of: teacher status, perceptions of teacher reward, and teacher agency and control (p. 6). While they did not find a specific correlation between teacher status, as defined through the Index score, and student achievement outcomes, they did note some interesting differences among nations. Table 1 summarizes the themes explored in this study, the significant indicators under each theme, and selected notable results.

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