This year SPU’s School of Education received a special commendation from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) for its record of educating future physics teachers. The 5+ Club Award is given to schools that graduate five or more physics teachers in a given year.
In 2011–12, SPU graduated eight highly qualified physics teachers. To put that number into perspective, fewer than 20 institutions in the United States graduate five or more highly qualified physics teachers each year, contributing to a severe, long-term shortage in this field.
In fact, of the approximately 1,400 new teachers who are hired to teach physics each year, only 35 percent have a degree in physics or physics education. In their 2014 report, the American Association for Employment in Education found that the teacher shortage in physics is number one among 59 education fields.
In 2013 the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics reported: “The need for qualified teachers is greater now than at any previous time in history.”
PhysTEC, a joint project of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), was created to combat this dearth by transforming physics departments, creating successful models for physics teacher education programs, and disseminating best practices. The project has funded more than 40 sites to build physics teacher education programs.
In February, representatives from SPU’s School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, along with other recognized schools from across the country, attended a ceremony at the PhysTEC national conference. SPU’s program was honored for being “a service to the state of Washington” and for “serving as a national model for STEM teacher preparation.”