(AP) The Obama administration unveiled plans Wednesday to create an elite corps of master teachers, a $1 billion (810 million) effort to boost U.S. students' achievement in science, technology, engineering and math.
The program to reward high-performing teachers with salary stipends is part of a long-term effort by President Barack Obama to encourage education in high-demand areas that hold the key to future economic growth and to close the achievement gap between American students and their international peers.
Teachers selected for the Master Teacher Corps will be paid an additional $20,000 (16,000) a year and must commit to participate multiple years. The goal is to create a multiplier effect in which expert educators share their knowledge and skills with other teachers, improving the quality of education for all students.
The administration will make $100 million available immediately out of an existing fund to incentivize top-performing teachers. Over the longer term, the White House said it plans to launch the program with $1 billion included in Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2013.
But the House and Senate both voted down Obama's budget earlier in the year, making it far from certain that Obama will be able to get congressional approval to spend $1 billion on master teachers.
A report released in February by the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology found that the U.S. must increase by 34 percent the number of students receiving degrees in science, math and related fields to keep up with economic demand.
Explore further: Closing the Achievement Gap in Math and Science