Planting the Seed: Engaging, Educating, and Advancing Teachers in STEM and Common Core

Principal investigator

Nancy Perry

Direct sponsor

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

Award start date


Award end date


Originating sponsor

U.S. Department of Education

The challenge

How can Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College increase the number of highly qualified middle and high school teachers in math and science to meet a growing need in the state of Arizona?

There is a need to increase the number of highly qualified STEM teachers. To become highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, a valid Arizona teaching license and pass the National Evaluation Series tests administered by Pearson for the curriculum they plan to teach.

When the Planting the Seed project began, only five percent of students in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College were seeking certification in math and sciences. The project goal is to increase this percentage to 20 percent.

The approach

Students compete for stipends through a process that includes an application, submission of passing test scores and an interview. The stipends are: $10,000 each to undergraduate students as a living wage if they teach math or science in middle or high schools and become highly qualified in those areas; and $25,000 to graduates for a living wage to student teach math or science in middle or high schools. Planting the Seed also provides induction support for first-year teachers who graduate from the program. 

Findings and impact

The project is ongoing. At project conclusion, 300 new highly qualified math and science teachers will be trained and placed in Title I schools. Additionally, a partnership with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will support professional development in STEM topics for teachers and teacher candidates. Four professional development units are available each academic year. Trainings take place with SEED teacher candidates and their mentors, and mentor teachers are paid for their training time.