Most education experts agree that American schools simply must attract more top talent to become teachers. In the United States, the majority of new teachers come from the bottom third of their graduating classes, in contrast to education-rich countries like Finland, Singapore, and Korea, where 100% of new teachers come from the top.
The need to revitalize the teacher corps is even more urgent given the fact that half of all current teachers will retire in the next 10 years. In light of inevitable preretirement attrition, a huge three-quarters of U.S. teaching personnel will need to be replaced this decade.
The greatest shortage of teacher talent is in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, which are critical to the future of the U.S. economy. The lack of qualified candidates forces schools to fill vacancies with teachers who do not possess the needed expertise in these subjects, which leads to poor student achievement in these areas. President Obama recently estimated a shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the country by 2015, and warned that the crisis threatens the country’s economic well-being.
Zachary Levine (MBA and MEd ’10) has stepped up to meet this challenge by founding ElevatED, an organization that focuses on recruiting promising STEM college students to the teaching profession. The enterprise leverages market research to understand both why college students are motivated to enter the profession, and what inhibitions they have. It then uses best practices from successful recruitment campaigns to reach undergraduates early, give them positive exposures to teaching, and counter misconceptions that prevent them from going into the profession.