HBCUs and UTeach: New Horizons in STEM Teacher Preparation

Through support from the Fund II Foundation and in partnership with the United Negro College Fund and the National Math and Science Initiative, the UTeach Institute is partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to propose ways to strengthen STEM teacher preparation pathways at their respective institutions. This effort seeks to address the underrepresentation of African Americans among the number of STEM teachers prepared across the nation each year.

Minority and low-income students are disproportionately affected by the persistent lack of qualified teachers in STEM subjects, including physics, chemistry, math, and computer science. “The lack of African American STEM teachers in these subjects translates to diminished opportunities for black and brown students to see themselves as being capable. When students see someone who looks like them or comes from a similar background, that reinforces the possibilities for success,” says Tracie Ellis, UTeach Institute Project Manager for Implementation.

Tracie Barrs-Ellis of the UTeach Institute (r) and Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia (l).

HBCUs play a critical role in meeting the goals of diversifying STEM teacher production. HBCUs are defined as institutions established prior to 1964 that served the primary purpose of educating African Americans. Through their rich tradition and history, HBCUs continue to meet the needs of first generation college students and foster a climate of success for the 300,000 students that attend their campuses annually, 80% of those being African American. HBCUs comprise just three percent of colleges and universities, but produce 27% of African American students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields and provide one-fourth of the bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to African Americans.

“Pairing UTeach with HBCUs will strengthen the UTeach program model for our network of university partners as we all work to diversify the STEM teacher workforce,” says UTeach Institute director Kimberly Hughes.

In a separate initiative in the state of Virginia, a public-private partnership will provide support for the UTeach Institute to build UTeach programs at Norfolk State University and Virginia State University, two public HBCUs.

UTeach is an innovative STEM teacher preparation program, created at The University of Texas at Austin, that allows STEM majors to complete their degree while earning a teaching certification. The UTeach Institute serves as the hub to a national network of universities working together to strengthen STEM teacher preparation. Thousands of UTeach alumni from programs at 45 universities work at school, district, and state levels to improve STEM education. Ninety-two percent of UTeach graduates are still teaching at the three year mark. Twenty-one percent of graduates identify as underrepresented and 69% teach in high-need schools. Visit uteach-institute.org for more information.

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