BYU Top in Addressing Shortage of Physics Teachers

February 22, 2019 | Leah Poffenberger | APS News

Addressing a national shortage of high school physics teachers is crucial to improving physics education in the United States. The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), a partnership of APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers, aims to improve the education of future physics teachers by transforming physics departments, creating successful models for physics teacher education programs, and disseminating best practices.

Each year, PhysTEC highlights the institutions that graduate more than 5 trained physics teachers, going above and beyond the national average. The inductees for the 2017-2018 academic year are: Brigham Young University (21), Rutgers University (8), Virginia Tech (8), University of Kentucky (8), The College of New Jersey (5).

Brigham Young’s 21 graduates is an unprecedented number of trained physics teachers coming from a single institution.

"We are extremely pleased that BYU prepared a record 21 physics teachers in a single year. Duane Merrell and his colleagues have an exemplary program that dovetails with BYU's enduring support for the teaching profession,” said Monica Plisch, APS Director of Education and Diversity. “We thank them for this very substantial contribution to alleviating the severe national shortage of physics teachers and serving as a model for other physics departments.”

Most colleges and universities graduate between two and zero trained physics teachers—defined as teachers with a degree in physics or physics education. Of the approximately 1,400 new teachers who are hired to teach physics each year, only 35% have a degree in physics or physics education.

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