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Improving Teacher Quality - 2006: Retention of Science & Mathematics Teachers

Many national and state reports cite a dangerous fact: neither the state nor the nation have enough qualified mathematics and science teachers. In fact, a report from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing shows that California's demand for qualified STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teachers exceeds the supply by many thousands of teachers each year. One solution-California's Science-Mathematics Initiative-commits the University of California and California State University to train 1,500 new STEM teachers annually. The ITQ Science and Mathematics Teacher Retention Initiative (Winter 2006) sought to increase STEM teacher numbers by employing a different strategy: using quality professional development programs to reduce teacher attrition.

In order to maximize the number of teachers included in the initiative, the Commission utilized a master grantee strategy, making awards to both the California Mathematics (CMP) and Science (CSP) Projects. Each master grantee then held internal competitions to provide ten site awards each around the state. This funding strategy allows the retention initiative to reach over 600 teachers delivering more than 66,000 hours of professional development annually.

Most of the CMP sites focus on new teachers, and provides content-based professional development that includes summer academy models, university course work, test preparation, and/or summer institutes with year round follow- ups. All of the CSP sites employ a community of practice approach tailored to fit local needs. For example, the San Diego site's community includes all the science teachers in a large urban high school Humboldt's community includes 38 teachers from 16 mostly rural, districts. Other sites have different models of learning communities. These projects are only half way through their five year funding period, but preliminary research suggests that they do help to keep qualified teachers in mathematics and science classrooms.

  • 03-350 - California Science Project Teacher Retention Initiative (CSP TRI)
  • 03-360 - California Math Project Supporting Teachers to Retention (CMP STIR)