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CSUB receives $1.75 million grant to train quality science teachers

NSF LogoCalifornia State University, Bakersfield has received a $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to recruit and train high quality science majors and professionals to teach K-12 science and math. The Robert Noyce Teacher Fellowship will give scholarships and teaching salary supplements to graduate students who enroll in and complete the new Master of Science in Science Education and teach in high-needs school districts. The new degree is undergoing review and is expected to be approved by the CSU Chancellor's Office to begin at CSUB in fall 2012.

The Master of Science in Science Education addresses the CSU system-wide goal of increasing the quality and quantity of K-12 science teachers in California. The two-year program includes credential coursework, science coursework, coursework addressing science- specific instructional strategies and a project in science education. The fellowship at CSUB takes a novel approach by focusing on individuals for whom teaching was not an initial career choice – and offering them the variety of coursework necessary to meet the state's subject matter competency criteria.

"Students who want to be science teachers take a breadth of courses in biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and even math. However, traditional science degrees usually trade off breadth for more depth in a single area," said Carl Kloock, a CSUB biology professor who helped secure the grant. "Because of this, it can be difficult for individuals with traditional degrees to meet the subject matter competency criteria, despite excellent qualifications in their field."

In addition to expanding their areas of expertise, fellows will learn how to teach science to young people and how to bring their professional research skills into the classroom.

The NSF grant will provide fellowships to 10 students in each of two cohorts, one beginning in 2012 and another in 2013. Fellows will receive scholarships while attaining their master's degrees as well as salary supplements for four years following completion of the program as long as they are teaching science in a high-needs school district. Scholarship and salary supplements can total up to $60,000 over 5 years. The salary supplement is aimed to help them stay in the teaching profession.

"Data indicate a high burnout rate in the first five years, but most teachers who teach for five years stay in the profession long term," Kloock said.

The grant will also fund other types of support for the students, including professional development and advising.

The National Science Foundation funds several teacher education programs, including the Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowship which is named for Robert Noyce, a co-founder of Intel Corp. The fellowship has been in existence since 2002. In 2011, 53 awards totaling $54 million have been made. This will be the first time CSUB offers the program here.

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