In the 12 years since its inception, PhysTEC has had numerous successes. This page highlights ways the project is improving physics teacher education around the country.

Teacher Graduation Rates at Legacy Sites Have Increased Sustainably

Nearly every PhysTEC site that has focused on recruiting high school physics teachers (several early sites focused on elementary and middle school teacher education instead) has seen substantial increases in teacher graduation numbers. Additionally, all legacy sites have sustained graduation rates at an elevated level compared to pre-funding years.

Graph of graduating teachers from PhysTEC legacy sites

PhysTEC sites now graduate over 50 teachers a year, which means the project accounts for around 10% of all new physics teachers who have a physics degree in the U.S. If a significant fraction of the nearly 800 institutions that grant a physics bachelor's degree make similar increases to those made at PhysTEC institutions, this will greatly increase the number of qualified physics teachers in the nation's classrooms.

Graph of graduating teachers from recently funded PhysTEC sites

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Future Teachers Increase at Currently Supported Sites

Newly funded sites have not yet begun graduating teachers who were impacted by the program, but nearly all have shown substantial increases in future teachers. Future teachers are students who have committed to completing a program of physics teacher education.

Graph of future teachers at currently funded sites

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Most PhysTEC Graduates Go on to Teach Physics

Preliminary survey results show that nearly 90% of PhysTEC graduates go on to teach in a K-12 school, and of those graduates for whom the project has current employment information, over two thirds are still teaching. Moreover, of those who are teaching, over 80% are teaching at least one physics class. PhysTEC Supported Sites develop induction and mentoring activities to support new teachers and keep them thriving in the classroom.

Graph of employment outcomesGraph of teaching assignments

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PhysTEC Graduates have strong content knowledge

PhysTEC graduates are more highly prepared to teach physics compared to the US physics teacher workforce, many of whom have weak content knowledge. To be a PhysTEC graduate a student must have a major or minor in physics, or equivalent coursework. In addition, many PhysTEC graduates have coursework in physics-specific pedagogy. Information about US physics teachers was obtained from AIP [1].

Graph of Physics content knowledge of graduates

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PhysTEC sites increase diversity of physics teacher workforce

PhysTEC teachers are more racially and ethnically diverse than the overall US physics teacher workforce. Survey results indicate that PhysTEC graduates are composed of 15% under represented minorities (URM). The American Institute of Physics [2] reports that only 5% of US physics teachers are URM, which is out of step with the rapidly growing population URM students taking physics. Those that do not self identify as White or Asian are considered to be URM. The PhysTEC project has worked with minority serving institutions to improve physics teacher education, and 6 of the 30 supported sites fall into this category.

Demographics of PhysTEC teachers

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More Physics Departments are Engaging in Teacher Preparation

Nearly 300 universities have joined the Physics Teacher Education Coalition. This makes up nearly 40% of the physics degree-granting institutions in the U.S. Each Coalition member submits an application form, endorses a statement on the importance of physics department involvement in teacher education, and agrees to submit yearly teacher graduation data.

Graph of coalition membership

Coalition members include universities from 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as several other countries.

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» See map of Coalition members

» List of PhysTEC definitions


  1. Susan White & Casey Langer Tesfaye, Who Teaches High School Physics? Results from the 2008-09 Nationwide Survey of High School Physics Teachers, (American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center, College Park, MD, 2010) Available at: http://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/highschool/hs-whoteaches-09.pdf
  2. Susan White & Casey Langer Tesfaye, Proportion of High School Physics Teachers in Each Racial or Ethnic Group, 2008-09, (American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center, College Park, MD, 2011) Available at: http://www.aip.org/statistics/data-graphics/proportion-high-school-physics-teachers-each-racial-or-ethnic-group-2008-09