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Grant to boost science, math education at CSU Stanislaus

POSTED June 27, 2009 5:09 p.m.
A grant of nearly $1 million to use in the recruitment of math and science teachers for “high need” schools was awarded to California State University, Stanislaus.
The university was awarded one of the coveted National Science Foundation grants in the amount of $896,000.
CSU Stanislaus plans to award scholarships of up to $30,000 each over the next five years to 34 students who plan to become science and mathematics teachers at “high-need” secondary schools. The $10,000 annual scholarships that can be awarded during students’ junior, senior, and/or teaching credential years, will come from the main portion of the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program grant. The Noyce Scholarship program is named in honor of Robert Noyce, co-founder of Intel and co-inventor of the microchip, who established a foundation dedicated to improving public education, particularly K-12 math and science.
Scholarship recipients will, in turn, make a commitment to teach a minimum of two years at a junior high school, middle school, or high school that is classified as “high need.” Those schools typically have a high percentage of students from low-income families, high teacher turnover rates, and a shortage of teachers qualified to teach science and mathematics.
“In general, we need more people to major in mathematics and science, and of those, we need more to become teachers,” said Michael T. Stevens, a member of the Biological Sciences faculty who helped spearhead the grant application. “This will be a great recruitment tool for those who are on the fence about which career path to go down.”
Research has shown that students perform better in math and science courses when they are taught by someone who majored in those fields, as opposed to a general curriculum.
A trends in Mathematics and Science study released in 2008 ranked U.S. fourth grade students in the 70th percentile in math out of 36 nations surveyed. U.S. eighth-graders were in the 80th percentile out of 48 nations. In science, U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders were in the 77th and 78 percentiles, respectively.
“Qualified science and math teachers can make a big difference in the lives of individual students and can also improve the economic potential of our region,” Stevens said.
Titled “Teachers from the Valley for the Valley,” the grant is expected to help CSU Stanislaus attract students who can help meet the acute need in the region and the state for seventh through 12th grade science and mathematics teachers.
Partner school districts and agencies participating in the grant that serves schools in the “high need” classification include the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Stockton Unified School District, Modesto City Schools, Merced City School District, and the Lodi Unified School District.
“I extend my deep appreciation to the faculty of the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Education, administrators, staff, and student members who worked collaboratively on this proposal for their dedicated efforts in attaining this prestigious grant,” CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani said.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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