College campuses to receive $8 million to boost teacher-prep programs

December 8, 2016

Twenty-nine California colleges and universities will share $8 million in state grants aimed at stemming teacher shortages by increasing the number of credentialed teachers.

The program will help boost the number of undergraduate students who receive teaching credentials in four years, at the same time that they earn a bachelor’s degree.

The Integrated Program Grants from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing are part of the state’s effort to address the shortage of K-12 teachers, especially in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, special education and bilingual education.

“There’s never been a better time to enter the profession given these new flexible credentialing options and financial incentives,” said Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, CSU’s assistant vice chancellor of teacher education.

The grants, which range from about $183,000 to $250,000, will help campuses hire faculty, create the curriculum and add courses so student teachers can complete coursework required for their majors while also finishing credentialing coursework.

Most of the grants specifically fund STEM, special education or bilingual education programs, the fields that have experienced the highest demand in recent years.

Seventeen of the campuses awarded grants are California State University schools. Two are University of California campuses, and the others are private colleges and universities.

“CSU is uniquely poised to offer these new four-year blended teacher-training programs,” Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, CSU’s assistant vice chancellor for teacher education, said in a statement. “The new format not only increases the number of teacher candidates graduating annually, but also provides monetary benefits to CSU students.”

At CSU, teacher candidates would save about $20,000 by eliminating the cost of an additional year of tuition and other college-related expenses, Grenot-Scheyer said.

This year’s state budget included a combined $10 million in two-year starting grants for the programs. The money was one of the ideas that Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to fund to address the teaching shortage. The remaining $2 million will be awarded at a later date.

The focus on “integrated” programs offering a teaching credential and a bachelor’s degree in four years marks a big shift for California. The traditional model requires five years for student teachers to complete undergraduate studies and teacher-preparation coursework.

Previously, many of California’s lawmakers and educators had considered that combining undergraduate coursework and teaching methods into four years ran the risk of short-changing both.

But the troubling decrease in the number of students entering teacher-preparation programs in recent years shifted much of that thinking as educators and lawmakers looked for ways to encourage more students to pursue careers as teachers.

California saw a 45 percent drop in enrollment in college teacher-preparation programs between 2010-11 and 2013-14, followed by a 10 percent increase in 2014-15.

One of the grant recipients, UC Irvine’s School of Education, is one of the few schools of education in the state with an existing integrated program.

Started in 2009 to generate science and math teachers, it has produced 80 graduates with credentials to teach STEM courses since 2012, 80 percent of whom went directly into teaching.

Irvine will use its $230,000 grant to explore partnerships with local community colleges that would feed candidates for the integrated program, said school of education Dean Richard Arum.

The new four-year programs will begin admitting students in fall 2018 for the 2018-19 academic year.

“There’s never been a better time to enter the profession given these new flexible credentialing options and financial incentives,” Grenot-Scheyer said.

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