Can UTeach? Assessing the Relative Effectiveness of STEM Teachers

Whitney Cade
Kate Sullivan
Melissa Dodson

UTeach is a well-known, university-based program designed to increase the number of high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers in the workforce. The UTeach program was originally developed by faculty at the University of Texas at Austin but has rapidly spread and is now available at 44 universities in 21 states; it is expected to produce more than 9,000 math and science teachers by 2020. Despite substantial investment and rapid program diffusion, there is little evidence to date about the effectiveness of UTeach graduates. Using administrative data from the state of Texas, we measure UTeach impacts on student test scores in math and science in middle schools and high schools. We find that students taught by UTeach teachers perform significantly better on end-of-grade tests in math and end-of-course tests in math and science by 5% to 12% of a standard deviation on the test, depending on grade and subject. The effect is larger for the founding site at the University of Texas at Austin than for replication UTeach sites, with estimated upper bounds of additional months of learning for students taught by UTeach Austin graduates of 4.0 months in high school math and 5.7 months in high school science. Controlling for the selectivity of the undergraduate institution appears to explain the differential between Austin and replication UTeach sites, but not the overall difference between UTeach and non-UTeach teachers.

Dec 2016