Jessica Thompson

The University of Washington College of Education's efforts to strengthen the nation's STEM teaching workforce will be discussed during an Oct. 28 summit at the White House.

Jessica Thompson, an assistant professor of education who is leading several projects to support STEM teachers and teacher candidates, will represent the College during the gathering of 100Kin10 partners and senior Administration officials. The 100Kin10 initiative seeks to prepare and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers for the nation's schools by 2021, with more than $175 million invested in STEM-specific teacher training by the U.S. Department of Education thus far.

The focus of the summit will be to celebrate progress toward the initiative's goal, share lessons and discuss additional steps the Administration and broader community can take to prepare and support STEM teachers.

"There is a tremendous need to expand the number of highly skilled science teachers in our nation's schools so we can prepare the leaders and problem-solvers of tomorrow," Thompson said. "In particular, we want to make sure we are building systems that constantly attend to underserved students."

To that end, Thompson and her UW colleagues are working on projects such as:

  • Developing local improvement networks of science teachers, coaches and principals in 10 King County schools. The community aims to strengthen teaching and learning for all students, with a special focus on English language learners.
  • Engaging with elementary teachers to develop ambitious and equitable science curriculum and teaching practices.
  • Creating and distributing online tools that support novice science teachers as they learn and implement ambitious science teaching practices in their classrooms.

Helping teachers build on students' everyday language and life experiences, and ground problem-solving in authentic experience is an important part of Thompson's work. In local schools partnering with the UW, there are already promising signs of progress as more students meet state science standards.

"It's important that students are not asked to check their 'lived histories' in at the door," Thompson said. "Their varied experiences are what we can bring into science teaching and we can make that a focus for teaching, so students see a diversity of points of view on how to think about science ideas."

Thompson has served as UW's representative in the 100Kin10 initiative for four years and will be attending the conference with post-doctoral researcher Karin Lohwasser.

Ten of the top 14 fastest-growing industries require significant know-how in STEM disciplines. Yet Americans continue to under-perform in those fields, and women and people of color are significantly under-represented.

By offering a superior STEM education to all children, 100Kin10 seeks to ensure that the nation's future leaders will have the diverse experience, skills and ideas they need to solve pressing problems and remain competitive in the rapidly changing global marketplace.

Learn more about Thompson's work in Research That Matters magazine or watch the video below to her Thompson discuss one of her projects following a presentation at the 2015 American Educational Research Association conference.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications