Institute for Education and Social Policy Awarded NSF Grant to Research Teacher Education in Earth Science

NYU’s Institute for Education and Social Policy has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to research teacher preparation in earthscience. It is part of a $2.8 million grant awarded to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

Under the grant, “An Innovative Approach to Earth Science Teacher Preparation: Uniting Science, Informal Science Education, and Schools to Raise Student Achievement,” AMNH will develop a new teacher education program model to prepare science teachers. NYU’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) will then research whether students taught by teachers in the AMNH program outperform students taught by new earth science teachers trained in other programs.

The AMNH program, which will require residents-in-training to work alongside scientists, is one of several “clinically rich” pilot preparation programs, where theory and practice are woven and demonstrated in classroom instruction. The AMNH program will work with six middle-high schools in New York City, Yonkers, and Freeport, Long Island. Resident rotations will include science, English Language Learners (ELL), and Special Education classrooms. The program focuses on earth science because it is one of the greatest areas of teacher shortages in urban areas, a circumstance due, in part, to poor retention rates— an estimated 50 percent of new teachers in high-needs schools leave within the first five years.

AMNH, which has access to the required scientific and educational resources in earth science and related disciplines, including paleontology and astrophysics, will develop a program that will include two years of mentoring for new teachers. In addition, a full academic year of residency in high-needs public schools will be supplemented by: two AMNH-based clinical summer residencies, a museum teaching residency prior to entering their host schools, and a museum science residency prior to teaching candidates entering the profession.

NYU’s IESP will then consider the effectiveness of the AMNH prepared teachers in comparison to other newly prepared teachers in New York State. The grant for the development and authorization of this new program comes from the New York State Education Department and the New York Board of Regents’ “Race to the Top Fund.” The “Race to the Top Fund” is designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform in order to enhance student performance, raise and close achievement gaps, improve high school graduation rates, and bolster preparing for success in college and in the workplace.

The University of Southern Maine is the grant’s external evaluator, which will review and assess the program as it is being implemented.

NYU’s Institute for Education and Social Policy is located within the university’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and led by core staff from Steinhardt, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

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