TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The challenge of recruiting math and science teachers is expected to increases in Kansas as more of them approach retirement and demand for the courses they teach rises.

Job growth is strong in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, leading to interest among students in the subjects, The Topeka Capital-Journal ( reports. The National Science Foundation said the number of high-school students taking Advanced Placement math and science classes has doubled in a decade to half a million.

Steve Case, director of the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Kansas, and colleague Steve Obenhaus, a master teacher at KU with 21 years of math instruction under his belt, analyzed six years of data on the state’s middle- and high-school math and science teachers. They found that nearly 20 percent will become eligible to retire in three more years.

“There’s a cliff out there,” Case said.

Kansas data indicates an average of 140 math and science teachers will become eligible to retire each year between now and 2030, he says, and because the numbers are expected to trend upward, Kansas will need to recruit more than 200 people into the workforce some years. Currently about 125 new math and science teachers join Kansas schools annually.

Changes passed by lawmakers this spring could help. Schools can now hire professionals who lack traditional teacher preparation to teach middle- and high-school science and math if they have at least five years of work experience using math and science.

The Kansas Association of School Boards supports that change, but warns schools will still need to lure those professionals from their private-sector careers.

“That is a possible tool” for addressing the shortage, KASB lobbyist Mark Tallman said, but added, “I doubt that is going to result in a significant number of new teachers.”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,