In This Newsletter Issue

K-12 Teachers of Engineering in U.S. Lack Needed Preparation and Support from Education System

February 14, 2020

News - Feb20 - NAE


Engineering is emerging as an important topic in K-12 education in the U.S., and is being incorporated into education standards, instructional materials, and assessments. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), for example, envision the integration of engineering concepts and practices with those from science, and the District of Columbia and nearly 80 percent of states have either adopted or adapted the standards.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says there is a growing mismatch between the need for engineering-literate K-12 educators and the capacity of the U.S. education system to prepare and support these professionals.  In addition, there are very few postsecondary programs that educate prospective K-12 teachers of engineering, and professional development experiences — through which the bulk of the current teaching workforce learned what they know about engineering and how to teach it — vary in duration, scope, and effectiveness.  The report also finds there is little evidence that K-12 science teachers are being given opportunities to learn to incorporate engineering concepts and practices in their instruction, as described in NGSS.

The report includes 10 recommendations for improving the preparation of K-12 teachers of engineering geared toward a range of stakeholders, from federal agencies and private foundations with an interest in STEM education to colleges, accrediting bodies, and state departments of education, such as:

  • convening a collaborative dialogue among the many stakeholders to address the capacity issue;
  • ensuring that programs that prepare preservice K-12 science educators or provide professional learning to in-service science teachers address the call in NGSS for students to connect their science learning to engineering ideas and practices; and
  • creating partnerships between postsecondary engineering and engineering technology programs with schools/colleges of education to design and implement curriculum for the preparation of K-12 teachers of engineering.

In addition, to address lack of diversity, the report recommends programs that prepare prospective K-12 teachers of engineering make greater efforts to recruit and retain teacher candidates from populations currently underrepresented in STEM education and careers.  A more diverse workforce that is encouraged to use inclusive pedagogies could help attract and retain a more diverse population of students interested in the study of engineering and in STEM-related careers, the report says.

DETAILS: Building Capacity for Teaching Engineering in K–12 Education is available for immediate release. Media inquiries should be directed to the National Academies’ Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail