Wanted: Middle School Math and Science Teachers to earn FREE Master’s Degree

Texas Tech pilot program aims to improve math and science instruction in Texas.

Texas Tech University is looking for a few good men – or women – as long as they are middle school math and science teachers, with a desire to earn a Master of Science degree – for free.

The Middle School Math and Science (MS²): Understanding by Design program was funded in December 2008 by a $3 million grant from the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF). Two cohorts of students, totaling 52 from around the state, are enrolled in the three-year program after which each will have earned a Master of Science degree in multidisciplinary science.

The program will accept applications through March for its third cohort of students, which will begin coursework in the fall. The plan calls for teachers to enroll in pairs of one math and one science teacher.

According to David Lamp, a Texas Tech physics professor, and also the co-director of MS², the grant provides up to 100 participating teachers with a laptop computer, tuition and fees, and housing during their face-to-face summer coursework. In-service teachers participating in the program take one course at a distance each semester and are required to attend two on-campus courses in Lubbock the first summer session of each year.

The collaboration between the Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences is designed to cultivate more highly qualified teachers who will in turn teach math and science more effectively in Texas middle schools. The course of study also emphasizes the integration of math and science instruction and improvement of teaching methods.

Even though the final cohort funded by the GTF grant is being recruited, Lamp and his co-director Becky Ortiz insist the program will continue.

Ortiz, also an assistant professor in the College of Education, said one of the stipulations of the Greater Texas Foundation is the continuation and self-sustainability of the program.

“They understand the importance and the urgency, if you look at state scores and the continued emphasis on assessment and state testing – it’s imperative that we improve the knowledge of all of our teachers with ongoing education,” Ortiz said. “The trick now is to find the continuing funding. We have to get really creative. The GTF is very interested in this becoming a national model of a way to increase the knowledge of our current teachers and in turn increase the knowledge of our students – to open those doors – so they can do things like engineering, and compete globally.  

“We do have guaranteed funding for this third cohort – so if there are teachers out there even thinking about getting into this program, now is the time.”

Ortiz said they are very much looking at results in the classrooms.

“We are looking at comparison groups between teachers who are in this program and those who aren’t, and looking at what is going on in the classroom in relationship to their students’ scores,” she said. “We are using this as a research-based model to show the correlation between better-prepared teachers, integration, and students holding on better to concepts and information.” 

For application information or other questions, contact Ortiz at (806) 742-1997 ext. 299 or at rebecca.ortiz@ttu.edu.

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CONTACT:  Leslie Cranford, Communications & Marketing, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2136, or leslie.cranford@ttu.edu.