The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is a significant economic engine in the United States but the percentage of students entering college interested in chemistry as a career has been declining in recent decades. High school chemistry students are more likely to see chemistry as a viable career option if their teachers have deep content knowledge with expertise in effective pedagogies so that teachers are able to show the excitement of becoming a professional chemist or biochemist.

This project is bringing together professionals committed to improving the preparation of highly-qualified second school chemistry teachers. The workshop is organized by the American Chemistry Society (ACS) and is developing a strategic plan for an ACS led initiative to improve the preparation of chemistry teachers. This initiative is called the Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition (CTEC) and it is patterned on the highly successful Physics Teacher Education Coalition.

Project Report

There is a need for a concerted effort to promote the education of future chemistry teachers. The percentage of U.S. secondary students taking chemistry increased from 49% in 1990 to 70% in 2009 (Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Transcript Study (HSTS), 1990 and 2009.) Chemistry, along with mathematics, physics and special education, is classified as a field experiencing some shortage of educators (Source: American Association of Employment in Education, Educator Supply and Demand in the United States Report, 2010). Additionally, only 33% of chemistry teachers in public schools have both a major and certification in chemistry (Source: U.S. Department of Education Schools and Staffing Survey, 2008). Additionally, the current political and educational climate indicates considerable interest in STEM teacher preparation. An invitational planning workshop and subsequent advisory board meeting were convened to develop a framework for a Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition (CTEC), an initiative modeled after the successful Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC). The workshop and advisory board meeting engaged over 20 experts in chemistry, chemistry education, physics, physics education, and teacher preparation to provide guidance and input into a strategic plan for an ACS-led initiative to improve the preparation of K-12, and especially high school chemistry, teachers. Additionally, a survey was conducted to examine the extent to which chemistry departments are currently involved in improving and promoting the education of future high school chemistry teachers. Intellectual Merit Work performed during the Chemistry Teacher Education Coalition (CTEC) Planning Workshop led to the development of a strategic framework for an initiative designed to address the preparation of future high school chemistry teachers. The framework developed during the CTEC Planning Workshop consists of CTEC’s mission, strategic goals, and supporting activities. CTEC’s mission is to actively engage chemistry departments in the preparation of future chemistry teachers. The initiative’s goals are: to develop institutional models that lead to increased numbers of diverse and well-prepared high school chemistry teachers who persist in the field and to transform chemistry departments to include teacher preparation as part of their teaching and research mission. Recommended activities in support of the CTEC initiative included: a grant competition (supporting the development of model chemistry teacher preparation programs); a community building and awareness component (raising awareness and engaging the chemistry community in the preparation of chemistry teachers); and a data collection project (conducting a robust needs assessment that would include the collection of data on chemistry teacher supply, demand, and preparation). The survey also extends and informs the work initiated by the invitational planning workshop and subsequent advisory board meeting. Survey results begin to fill in some gaps in the knowledge base about the departments in which undergraduate pre-service teachers are prepared. As a result, there is a more complete view on chemistry department culture related to recognition for teacher preparation efforts and a greater understanding of the small numbers of students prepared annually by chemistry departments. There is evidence that there are a very small number of chemistry departments who excel at this work. The survey also reveals that the vast majority (83%) of chemistry departments not currently involved in the work of pre-service chemistry teacher preparation are not yet discussing the possibility of initiating such an effort. Broader Impacts The framework developed during the CTEC Planning Workshop provides a foundation for a comprehensive initiative to prepare future chemistry teachers, develop institutional models for doing so, and catalyze cultural change within chemistry departments. It is anticipated that successful implementation of this framework will lead to an increased number of well-prepared high school chemistry teachers. Further, high-quality teachers, with in-depth content knowledge and expertise in effective pedagogies, will positively impact students throughout their careers. The activities conducted during the CTEC Planning Workshop and the outcomes that resulted were disseminated using a variety of mechanisms including scientific conferences and articles in Chemical & Engineering News. The latter mechanism was specifically selected for its capacity to reach large numbers of the chemistry community, many of whom are not engaged with or aware of the challenges that confront the chemical sciences in preparing future chemistry teachers. Coupled with the strategic framework for CTEC established during the first reporting period, the survey findings provide the CTEC and the broader chemistry community with a stronger, more substantiated rationale for a concerted effort to promote the education of future chemistry teachers. Finally, the activities and outcomes of the CTEC Planning Workshop project have stimulated further collaboration between the developing CTEC effort and the well-established PhysTEC project. Programming (multiple sessions) related to the preparation of future high school chemistry teachers was featured at the Spring 2013 PhysTEC conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Joan T Prival
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
American Chemical Society (ACS)
United States
Zip Code