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Physics Education program recognized as top producer of skilled teachers

Illinois State University is being recognized as a top producer of skilled physics teachers in the United States.

The American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) are honoring Illinois State as one of only seven institutions in the nation to graduate five or more highly qualified physics teachers in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Known as “The 5+ Club,” the award comes from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, a joint project of APS and AAPT. Illinois State graduated five physics teachers in 2018-2019.

“The acknowledgement of our physics teacher graduation rates is a point of pride for the department,” said Department of Physics Chair Dan Holland. “Perennially appearing on this list is a testament to our internationally recognized program.”

The Illinois State Physics Education program is one of the largest in the country, and consistently graduates certified physics teachers. Coordinator of the Physics Teacher Education Program Ken Wester said credit to the continued strength of the program goes not only to excellent faculty members, but also to current high school teachers. “There are many talented physics teachers in the state of Illinois who encourage students to pursue a career in physics education,” said Wester. “We’re proud to help them achieve that goal by attending Illinois State.”

The National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics reported the need for qualified teachers is greater now than at any previous time in history. The APS, led by President David Gross, wrote, “The United States is facing a severe, long-term shortage of qualified physics teachers. Illinois State University’s efforts are an essential part of helping to address the critical shortage of qualified physics teachers.”

Of the approximately 1,400 new teachers hired to teach physics each year, only 35 percent have a degree in physics or physics education. The AAPT, led by President Mel Sabella, noted “Physics teacher shortages are considerable in every region in the United States, and Illinois State University’s excellent physics teacher preparation program is a service to the state of Illinois.”

Visit Illinois State’s Department of Physics website for information about the program, or call (309) 438-8756.

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