SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release


$1.2 million education grant will train science and math teachers


SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 8, 2011 -- San Francisco State University has been awarded $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation to launch an intensive teacher training program for undergraduates with science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) majors, as well as STEM graduates enrolled in the University’s one-year teaching certification program.

As a large group of teachers prepares for retirement in the next decade, California is facing a critical shortage of skilled and knowledgeable science and math teachers. In 2008, the California State University Chancellor’s Office estimated that the state will need 33,000 new math and science teachers within the next ten years, particularly in high-poverty urban schools. Between 2009 and 2010, California saw an eight percent decrease in the number of newly credentialed teachers.

The Noyce Scholarship Program grant will expand SF State’s scholarship options for undergraduates interested in becoming middle and high school STEM teachers by providing new fellowships for up to ten students annually over the next five years. The grant will also greatly expand research and teaching opportunities offered to STEM students seeking a career in education, said SF State’s Larry Horvath, the grant’s principal investigator, and Eric Hsu, co-principal investigator.

But the biggest beneficiaries of the grant may be San Francisco’s K-12 schools, which are in serious need of qualified science and math teachers. “We will be providing not only a pathway into teaching,” said Horvath, an assistant professor in secondary education, “but we also will be helping the SF State Noyce Fellows become STEM teacher leaders at their future schools, particularly high-need urban schools in our immediate area.”

Hsu, a professor of mathematics and director of the Center for Science and Math Education (CSME), said SF State has a long history of working through the center and other outlets to prepare STEM graduates for a teaching career, including its CSME Teacher Fellows Program. He said the Noyce fellowships will now allow interested students to “really step up and explore and research, and put in the intense training and hours required to become active STEM teacher researchers.”

Horvath and Hsu hope that the program, which will begin in spring 2012, will include three juniors, four seniors and three credential students each year from a variety of STEM disciplines. Noyce Fellows will attend special seminars and monthly meetings to deepen their understanding of student learning and explore best practices in science and mathematics teaching.

“The grant is unusual in the sense that we can now get future STEM teachers engaged at a much deeper level in classroom-based research projects,” Horvath said. “Before this, we haven’t been able to get them engaged in much research on student learning during the process of becoming teachers.”

Undergraduate Noyce Fellows will work intensively with San Francisco Unified School District teachers on two projects: the SERP San Francisco Field Site, which focuses on ways to increase student achievement in middle school science and literacy, and The Algebra Project, an initiative developed by civil rights leader Robert Moses to bring math literacy and teacher training to disadvantaged public schools.

The program also provides an essential link to community college students through paid summer internships at the STEM Summer Institute at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). The summer institute introduces community college students to STEM teaching careers and gives them hands-on experience working with K-8 students at local Bay Area informal science centers such as the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The Noyce Fellows will work with the CCSF students as teachers and tutors, mentors and role models, “hopefully strengthening the Community College pathway to SF State, a bachelor’s degree and a future as a STEM teacher,” Horvath said.

With the Noyce grant, SF State can now “provide future STEM teachers with the capacities to sustain their teaching in these high-needs urban schools,” Hsu and Horvath noted, “and inspire a new cadre of students to pursue careers in STEM fields or teaching.”


For more information about the Noyce fellowships at SF State, contact Larry Horvath at (415) 338-2693 or lhorvath@sfsu.edu

Read more about the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.


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