Amid calls from multiple quarters—including Governor Daniels, President Obama, and state and national leaders of business and industry—for students to demonstrate higher achievement in science and mathematics, Ball State University on March 5, 2010, unveiled a new high school teacher preparation curriculum. Discussion of the curriculum model in light of current issues and trends in public education was the focus of the Colloquium at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Terry King, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Ball State, moderated the panel of national experts, including James Fraser, senior vice president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation; Tami Martin, professor of mathematics in the secondary teacher certification sequence at Illinois State University; Sally Goetz Shuler, executive director of the National Science Resources Center, an organization of the National Academies and the Smithsonian Institution; and, Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at New York University.

Partnering with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Ball State has produced a one-year, master's degree, with licensing in life science, mathematics, physics, or physical science for individuals with strong preparation in one of these areas, but no previous teacher preparation course work. The year of formal instruction is followed by three years of intensive mentoring of the new teachers by Ball State staff. Key elements in the design of the curriculum include close collaboration between faculty from the Teachers College, the College of Sciences and Humanities, and high school teachers from Muncie and Anderson; organization of the curriculum into a set of integrated modules as opposed to a collection of courses; integration of educational theory and teaching methods; focus on learning how to teach the specific concepts in science and mathematics; extended, supervised immersion in high schools before hiring as a first-year teacher.

Desired outcomes of the new model include enhanced achievement by high school students and retention of science and mathematics teachers in high needs school settings.

During discussion of the complexities of preparing teachers, Fraser described the Ball State model as "extraordinary to move from traditional courses into modules based specifically on what teachers need to know." He called it a "sea change" in teacher preparation.

The first cohort of students to experience the new curriculum will be Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows, who will begin their studies at Ball State University in June 2010. 

Click here for more information on becoming a Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellow.