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Aspiring to Lead: Engaging K-12 Teachers as Agents of National Change in Physics Education


Excerpts from the Executive Summary

The nation has an urgent need for highly qualified K-12 STEM educators. This need is particularly evident in the field of physics teaching. Despite significant efforts to recruit, prepare, and retain highly qualified physics teachers through existing programs, the severe deficit of highly qualified teachers at the secondary (PhysTEC, 2016). In schools where physics is offered, fewer than half of all physics teachers have a degree in physics or physics education (White & Tyler, 2015). Even more pressing is the significant challenge in elementary education. Elementary school educators have little to no training or support in teaching physics concepts at all. Only 5% of elementary educators have a degree in science, engineering, or science education, and elementary teachers report that science is the area in which they feel least prepared to teach...

The major thesis of this report is that the development and implementation of programs to address these issues in K-12 education should be carried out by teachers, for teachers.

Additional Details

Recognizing the need for networked physics teacher leadership to improve the quality and quantity of K-12 physics education, the AAPT selected a group of 17 Physics Master Teacher Leaders (PMTLs) supported by 13 teacher advisory members and a team of leadership advisory members. Through their work, this report includes the following elements:

  • A Framework for Physics Teacher Leadership
  • Strategic identification of Principles, Priorities, and Programs, including recommendations to the AAPT Board of Directors:
    • A multi-year program to support novice secondary physics teachers,
    • A tiered leadership program to support interdisciplinary teams of primary and secondary physics educators with high potential for leadership aimed at providing support for local teacher cohorts, and
    • A STEM advocacy leadership develop program for experienced physics master teacher leaders both to support national initiatives through advocacy at the local, state, and /or federal level and to provide sustainability in leadership, funding, and vision for other AAPT K-12 programs.

Following approval of this report in February 2017, members of the original task force are currently convening to develop program proposals for each of the identified priority areas.

To learn more about this effort, please contact AAPT K-12 Program Manager Rebecca Vieyra at rvieyra@aapt.org.