CWU News

CWU Awarded $2.19 Million for STEM Teacher Preparation

Central Washington University has received a $2.19 million grant to develop and implement an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) teacher preparation program. The program, based on University of Texas-Austin’s UTeach model, will be customized for Washington State to meet the state’s teacher preparation requirements.


The grant comes from the Opportunity Expansion Account, established by the legislature to help Washington universities fund new or existing programming that helps students earn high-demand bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering, computer science, or STEM education.


The 2011 statute, which passed along with the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) Fund, allowed companies to donate high-tech research and development tax credits to the account, instead of recouping them. The R&D tax credit was eliminated in 2015.


Microsoft, the only company to contribute to the fund, donated a total of $6 million. CWU was one of three university programs to be selected. According to Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft Corporation, “. . .  we need more educators who can teach key courses in our public schools. And we need more capacity for students who want to pursue the needed courses in college.” Read more of Smith’s comments at

There is a critical shortage of highly qualified mathematics and science teachers nationwide. More than 283,000 teachers will be needed in secondary schools in this decade alone.


“UTeach has been uniquely successful in recruiting and retaining high quality STEM teachers,” said Jennifer Dechaine-Berkas, CWU science education and biology professor. “Their success has been nationally recognized by the United States government, Fortune 500 companies, and nonprofit organizations. We are excited to bring this model to Washington State.”


The first class of students will start the new STEM teaching program in fall 2017.


What’s Different?
CWU’s new STEM teaching program will allow students to earn both their STEM degree and teaching certification in four years—even if they start teacher certification as late as their junior year. This degree structure gives students career choice and flexibility.

CWU’s program will also offer a wide variety of paid internships to lessen the financial burden of a college education on students, and allow them to gain meaningful work experience.


Teacher certification courses will combine theory and practice using extensive field experiences teaching in K-12 classrooms. Students work with K-12 students and practicing teachers from their very first STEM teacher preparation course through student teaching. Field experiences will be developed in collaboration with partner school districts.


The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) is a unique partnership helping to build the next generation of scientists, engineers, health care professionals and other professionals in high-demand fields. Businesses and the Washington State Legislature have joined forces to fulfill the promise of better education and career opportunities for Washington students. Together they have created a unique public-private partnership including major employers like Boeing and Microsoft. For more information about WSOS, go to


UTeach began at The University of Texas at Austin in 1997 as an innovative way to recruit undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and prepare them to become teachers. Out of this original program a number of local STEM education initiatives have grown, including a national expansion effort, all supporting the improvement of STEM education and the public education system overall. For more information, go to

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

February 15, 2017