Do elementary school students learn math and science skills better when they’re taught by teachers who specialize in math and science?
Determining that is the aim of a new study being conducted over the next three years by faculty members at Western Washington University.
Traditionally, most elementary school teachers are required to teach all subjects to their students, but they often lack a strong foundation in math or science subjects. Western has been awarded a $449,957 National Science Foundation grant to study different ways that math and science are taught by specialists — teachers who specialize in math or science content.
There are several different models for using specialists in math or science in elementary schools. In one model, a science teacher moves between different classrooms to teach science. In another model, a team of teachers provides math or science instruction to rotating groups of students.
The research project will take a look at the knowledge, preparation and needs of specialized teachers, and will measure how effective they are.
The research will involve six school districts in Whatcom and Skagit counties: Anacortes, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison, Ferndale, Nooksack Valley and Sedro-Woolley.