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A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the LEPP conference, June 19, 2006 Ithaca, NY Funded by a Teacher Quality Improvement grant from the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office and with a grant from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

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Page 1: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers

Dr. John Truedson Physics Department

Bemidji State UniversityBemidji, MN

Presentation at the LEPP conference, June 19, 2006Ithaca, NY

Funded by a Teacher Quality Improvement grant from the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office and with a grant

from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

Page 2: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

“Highly Qualified” teacher as defined by NCLB

• To meet the highly qualified standard under NCLB, all teachers must– Have completed a bachelor’s degree;– Hold full state certification; and– Pass rigorous subject content and pedagogy tests to demonstrate

competence in assigned subject;• Middle and high school teachers may demonstrate

competence in their assigned subject(s) by holding a degree major in the assigned subject (or equivalent course work), or

• For current teachers only, state may propose another method of evaluating and reporting on competence of teachers in their assigned subject(s).

• Source: Council of Chief State School Officers– http://www.ccsso.org/content/pdfs/HighlyQualifiedTeachers.pdf

Page 3: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Physics licensure rules for Minnesota – Science: Grades 5 – 8; – Physics: 9 -12– Chemistry: 9 -12– Life Science: 9 -12– Earth & Space Science: 9 -12– No numeric credit requirement. Specific competencies in

physics knowledge and pedagogy. Teachers seeking licensure must obtain recommendation from a University that offers a licensure program.

– Also must pass Praxis II test in Physics (as of Oct. 1, 2004). – Most current and new science teachers in Minnesota are Life

Science majors.

Page 4: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Meeting the need • In Minnesota the need to have all teachers licensed in

each area has forced school districts to find licensed physics teachers somehow.

• The majority of licensed teachers have been qualified licensed only in Life Science.

• Most school districts in the state do not have a local professional available to teach part time and no teacher can afford to teach only 1/5th or 2/5th of a load.

• Several legislative solutions have been proposed including:– Allow science teachers to be licensed in other content areas by

passing the specific Praxis II test (Physics: 137 (100 – 200 scale).

– Change the state licensure rules to a 5 – 12 General Science license, which would allow a teacher to teach any science course.

– No longer teach Physics in rural schools face-to-face

Page 5: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Proposed licensure bill for Minnesota• 2006 Session House Bill HF2689:

– The MN Board of Teaching must license a science teacher to teach in a new science content area or level if the teacher holds a continuing license to teach science and receives a qualifying score on an appropriate Praxis II test in a science subject other than the teacher's currently licensed science field or level.

• This is the second time this legislation has been proposed in the past three years. The first time we managed to have the bill withdrawn just before the end of the session. The second time it died early in the process.

Page 6: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

The BSU Hybrid licensure physics licensure program

• The program consists of two on-line upper division courses in Physics plus an intensive (8 am – 5 pm) 3 week summer lab program at Bemidji State University.

• The prerequisites for the program are– 1. an existing science teaching license in Minnesota– 2. one year of Introductory physics– 3. one semester of calculus preferred

There were 30 teachers enrolled in the program during the 2003-04 academic year.

Teachers received a 75% tuition waiver plus books and stipend.

Page 7: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Physics courses in program

Fall online course– PHYS 6930 Modern Physics for Teachers, 3 credits.

• Spring on-line course– PHYS 6930 Modern Optics for Teachers, 3 credits.

• Summer on-campus courses– PHYS 6930 Electronics for Teachers, 3 credits.– PHYS 6980 Research in Physics, 3 credits

• Program information can be found at:– http://www.bemidjistate.edu/science/bsusci/sci_teach.htm

Page 8: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

The 3 week summer program • The on-campus courses consisted entirely of lab activities

ranging from simple labs designed for the low budget physics classroom to advanced physics labs.

• Each participant was also required to conduct a presentation on a current topic in Physics.

• In addition we toured the Neutrino Experiment at the Soudan Underground mine and a nearby Coal Fired Power Plant.

• We also had numerous social activities including a pontoon ride, cookouts, and a pig roast.

Page 9: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Schools of participant teachers27 teachers completed 2004 program

• 15 teachers completed 2005 program

Page 10: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

What they liked about the program.• Teacher 1

– “I enjoyed the interactive websites used with the on-line courses, the availability of my professor, the ease with which I could structure coursework, and the helpful tools/skills that were given. However, I wish I could bounce ideas off others face-to-face”

– “I liked the summer program in that we could work with other teachers. But I don’t think there was enough time to learn all our objectives. I would like another week added to the summer program.”

Page 11: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

What they liked about the program.• Teacher 2

– “I liked working with the breadboards and oscilloscopes in Electronics. I learned a great deal. I think the equipment we worked with in the physics research course was extremely useful and interesting. The majority of experiments we performed are introduced in high school Physics textbooks. I am able to say I did these labs, greatly enhancing my lectures for students.”

– “Before the program, I never did any work with electronics. This year we spent 3 weeks constructing and testing circuits. I also did a unit on lenses and mirrors, and a unit of diffraction gratings and lasers.”

Page 12: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Some comments based on observations and email– Very positive attitude towards physics– Since the overwhelming majority are biology teachers,

several have developed units integrating physics and biology.

– Most are teaching physics as an active hands-on course with a significant lab component.

– Instead of starting at beginning of text with vectors and kinematics, several are starting with more “interesting” topics such as electricity or optics.

– Several teachers now prefer to teach physics rather than biology.

Page 13: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Results and lessons learned• 27 teachers completed the initial 2004 program

and all were able to obtain full licensure to teach physics in Minnesota.

• 16 teachers completed the 2005 physics program and 12 enrolled in a similar program for Chemistry. All but two have passed the corresponding Praxis II exam.

• Follow up with teachers has been limited due to travel logistics and other commitments due to the small size of our department (3 faculty)

Page 14: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Lessons learned from the first 2 years• It has not always been smooth sailing with University

faculty teaching in the program for the first time. • Faculty must understand the purpose of the program and

what the high school teachers want out of the program.• Do not mix teachers with undergraduates majors in

courses as a matter of convenience. The motivations of each group are different.

• It is not easy for teachers to afford tuition for these programs since most rural school districts do not cover the costs. Our grants ($50k – 60K) have allowed us to waive most of the tuition and cover housing.

• We would also like to provide more follow-up support to teachers completing the program.

• Unless we can make it more accessible statewide and include other content areas, teacher licensure will be modified in the state.

Page 15: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Statewide offering of this program• The State University system (7 state Universities

including BSU) has recently received funding to start a Teacher Center.

• As part of this new funding, a group of University Science faculty will receive ~$100k to initiate a statewide professional development licensure program for science teachers.

• Our collaborative of 15 science faculty are developing courses for the four science content areas and working to obtain significant funding to deliver these programs effectively.

Page 16: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Science Teaching

Collaborative (STC)• Universities involved in this

collaborative are: • Bemidji State University• Metropolitan State University• Minnesota State University, Mankato• Minnesota State University-Moorhead• St. Cloud State University• Southwest Minnesota State University• Winona State University

Add-On Licenses for

Science Teachers

Page 17: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Teacher Center

http://teachercenter.mnscu.edu/

Page 18: A Physics Licensure program for Minnesota Science Teachers Dr. John Truedson Physics Department Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN Presentation at the

Licensure Areas and conclusion

• Physics Teaching Licensure Courses (12 credits) • Life Science Teaching Licensure Courses (13 credits)• Chemistry Teaching Licensure Courses (16 Credits)• Earth & Space Science Teaching Licensure Courses (16

Credits)• Courses in each area will be offered in a format to meet

the needs of teachers.

• Conclusion • The need is definitely there. Is this the best

solution?