ISU faculty tackling Idaho’s STEM teacher shortage

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – Idaho State University faculty are working to combat the teacher shortage using a newly launched project called Idaho Making Progress Against Critical Teacher Shortages, or IMPACTS for short.

With an increased demand for highly skilled science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers in Idaho, IMPACTS focuses on short- and long-term needs.

The project was made possible through a $75,000 National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Capacity Building Grant. IMPACTS seeks to understand how to create a sustainable pipeline of secondary STEM teachers, specifically in underserved rural school districts like American Falls and Shoshone-Bannock School Districts.

“Over the last ten years our district has had a difficult time hiring teachers in the STEM areas,” American Falls School District Superintendent Randy Jensen said. “These are critical areas of student success where we need high quality teachers. The IMPACTS project could play a critical role in helping us recruit, retain and support our STEM teachers. This project will help our underserved student population and help us know how best to help and encourage them to enter STEM careers.”

Dr. Cory A. Bennett, professor in ISU’s Teaching and Educational Studies, and Dr. Steve Shropshire, professor of physics in the College of Science and Engineering, are collaborating on the IMPACTS research project. The two are gathering data, conducting focus group interviews, surveying students, recruit educators, and school district administrators to identify ways to and retain more STEM educators.

“In the short-term, it is our hope that this project will help us build better relationships and stronger partnerships with local school districts and community partners so that we have the insight needed to create a sustainable pipeline of STEM teachers for the long term, Bennett said. “Having teachers who are highly qualified, who are representative of all the different kinds of cultures, languages, and backgrounds in our communities, is so important to properly preparing kids for these careers.”

“This project will help us to identify barriers to recruitment and retention of potential STEM educators. It gives us the resources we need to gather information to allow us to apply for significant funding,” Dr. Shropshire said. “If we are successful in obtaining an NSF Noyce Scholarship Award for ISU, it will help us increase ISU enrollment in science programs that serve STEM educators.”

Idaho State offers educational pathways to support students in obtaining an affordable, high-quality education and teacher certification in elementary, secondary, and special education with endorsements in the STEM field.

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