Berkeley Science & Math Initiative (BSMI)

BSMI aims to recruit and prepare STEM undergraduates to become K-12 classroom teachers in urban schools through our CalTeach program, and provide professional development focused on high quality STEM teaching & learning for Bay Area STEM teachers.

College of Letters & Science, University of California-Berkeley
Established: 2010

Profile submitted by Elisa Stone

Vision and Goals

Goal 1: We aim to recruit and prepare STEM undergraduate majors to become K-12 math and science teachers in urban schools. The CalTeach program within BSMI offers STEM majors at University of California (UC), Berkeley who have completed the CalTeach course sequence a California secondary math or science credential. CalTeach courses integrate the STEM content learning of their undergraduate major, pedagogy for math and science teaching, and extensive K-12 classroom experiences under the supervision of experienced teachers.

Goal 2: We aim to create a corps of STEM master teachers through financial incentives and a five-year professional and leadership development program focused on secondary math and science teaching offered by Math for America (MfA), Berkeley. These teacher/leaders will promote high quality STEM instruction for K-12 students within their schools and districts. A number of MfA teachers mentor CalTeach undergraduates in their classrooms, or teach courses in the CalTeach program.

Goal 3: We aim to create and support a community of new, mentor, and master STEM teachers in San Francisco Bay Area public schools, with the goal of strengthening secondary STEM education and teacher retention by allowing teachers to share best practices and support each other's classroom practice. Programs designed to meet this goal include the Berkeley Engineering Research Experiences for Teachers (BERET), for which experienced STEM teachers engage in summer research projects and curriculum development in partnership with STEM undergraduates in a variety of STEM laboratories at UC Berkeley under the mentorship of research faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.

Five core values guide the Berkeley Science and Math Initiative: (1) Content is critical: strong teachers must have deep knowledge of the STEM subjects they teach, (2) Deep learning involves inquiry: great STEM teachers engage their students in active learning and are committed themselves to continually evaluating their own practices, (3) Equitable practices are essential for all students to access a high quality STEM education, (4) Learning requires a community of great teachers: teaching is not an isolated activity, and (5) Effective programs are coherent and support broad learning: strong STEM learning integrates math and science, theory and practice, pedagogy and content.

Center/Program Structure

The Berkeley Science and Math Initiative (BSMI) is made up of two primary synergistic and complementary programs at UC Berkeley: CalTeach and Math for America, Berkeley. Together, they offer innovative ways of preparing, supporting and retaining outstanding math and science teachers. These programs, housed within the Math and Physical Sciences Division of the College of Letters & Science, have been created and run by math, science and engineering faculty in collaboration with faculty and staff in the Graduate School of Education. BSMI programs build on the research strengths of the University of California and make substantial investments into pre-service and in-service teachers in order to make a real difference in the education of our youth.

Are there advantages of being structured this way?

BSMI has been able to draw upon STEM disciplinary experts to strengthen its focus on rigorous STEM content, and collaborate with a number of education partners to create an integrated and coherent approach to improving STEM education.

Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?

We continue to work at promoting awareness of our relatively small administrative unit, as we rely on the administrative centers of a number of collaborators to function on an operational level.


BSMI funding comes from campus, state, private foundation and federal sources. CalTeach receives central university support for the courses that are offered as well as support for core staff functions, and has been able to grow at Berkeley through the support of grants from the National Math and Science Initiative, the National Science Foundation and several key individuals and foundations. MfA Berkeley began with a planning grant from the national MfA organization, and support continued from the NSF Noyce program. Continued growth will require additional resources, some of which are expected to come from the university and some from external sources.

How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?

This funding structure has allowed the program to grow and has promoted new initiatives as financial support has increased.

What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?

Support from the variety of sources has allowed flexibility in the funding model and has created buffers when campus resources have been limited.

What are the challenges?

Continued growth will require additional resources from regular new grant proposals and development efforts, some of which are expected to come from the university and some from external sources.

Has this funding structure has changed over time?

Campus support for the CalTeach instructional budget was necessary to replace that originally funded from seed money.

Description of Programming

CalTeach is a STEM undergraduate teacher preparation program that supports students to earn their full disciplinary degrees in science, engineering and math, and simultaneously earn a credential to teach math or science in middle or high school. CalTeach integrates disciplinary education with pedagogy so that graduates are well prepared to embark on careers as great science and math teachers. A unique aspect of CalTeach is the extensive in-class field experiences that begin as early as the freshman year, with classroom activities growing in depth and expectation until their final apprentice teaching experience. CalTeach has built a network of mentor teachers who regularly welcome UC Berkeley students into their classrooms. In those classrooms, CalTeach students develop and present inquiry-based lessons and share their curriculum with other students and teachers. CalTeach graduates spend over 100 hours in local classrooms helping students learn before they become student teachers.

The central design hypothesis of the CalTeach Berkeley program is the integration of disciplinary coursework in mathematics and science with education coursework, along with simultaneous opportunities for apprentice teaching through multiple field placements in urban classrooms. CalTeach began in 2006 with only 15 students enrolled in the first classes, and in 2007, the program became one of the first cohort of UTeach replication sites. The program has grown in both the number and range of CalTeach courses, and the number of students taking these courses.The seven CalTeach courses offered are taught across the colleges, including the Graduate School of Education. Five core upper division courses make up a Science & Math Education minor. The CalTeach course sequence emphasizes that inquiry is fundamental to student learning and effective teaching, and is essential for the effective development of pedagogical content knowledge. To reinforce inquiry practices, all undergraduates in CalTeach are required to participate in scientific and/or applied mathematical research as part of their coursework.

MfA Berkeley program elements support teachers through each stage of growth toward becoming a Master Teacher. The program begins by engaging a cohort of approximately 10 experienced STEM teachers in a professional learning community (PLC) in which the teachers examine their own practice and student learning throughout the first year. In the next summer, each teacher engages in a disciplinary research opportunity in her or his field. During the second year, teachers are supported to earn their National Board Certification. In the third year, some Master Teacher Fellows have arranged to come to UC Berkeley as Teachers-in-Residence, either part time or full time. During this period they can engage with the growing CalTeach pre-service teacher-credentialing program as mentors, field supervisors and teachers. Master Teachers receive training and support to become facilitators for their own professional learning communities and also have the opportunity to take courses in their discipline and join in one of several research groups examining educational practice. In the final two years of the program, teachers receive guidance and support in organizing their own workshops and professional learning communities within their schools and districts. They may become active participants in their district's induction program for new teachers, and they are encouraged to present their research findings at local, state and national conferences.

Successes and Impacts

Since its first courses, CalTeach has experienced a dramatic increase in enrollments. In 2017-18, over 500 CalTeach undergraduates held weekly field placements assisting and receiving guidance from approximately 125 K-12 teachers and working with over 10,000 K-12 students.

CalTeach will have credentialed over120 STEM teachers in its first years, with classroom retention at approximately 80% across all cohorts, much higher than the state and national average. CalTeach graduates are extremely diverse in terms of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and gender demographics, again much higher than state and national averages.

MfA Berkeley will have graduated 35 Master Teachers in its 5-year professional development program, who are involved in school and district leadership at all levels.

Evaluation and Assessment

How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?

BSMI engages in regular program evaluation and a number of research studies to determine the extent to which our goals are met, understand how teachers develop as they progress through their teacher education program and beyond, and contribute to the education research fields of STEM teaching and learning. BSMI has successfully obtained a number of awards that fund research studies, and has hired and trained several graduate student researchers each year from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.

Elements Contributing to Success

Campus leadership and support at multiple levels have contributed to the establishment, growth and success of BSMI. Additionally, initiating and maintaining strong partnerships with parallel programs at other UC campuses, Bay Area science and math education partner organizations, and local school districts has been critically important for BSMI.

Supplemental Materials