Essays on Teacher Preparation by Workshop Participants

Robert Cichowski

Teacher Preparation and Public School Programs
California State University Office of the Chancellor

Preparing Secondary Science Teachers and Science-Competent Elementary Teachers

The California Council for Science and Technology's Report "Critical Path Analysis of California's Science and Technology Education System" (April 2002) has documented that California falls short by 14,000 science and engineering graduates in meeting the hi-tech needs of the state. California's share of U.S. science and technology employment has ranged from 15-18% over the last twenty years. The "Critical Path Analysis" report examines each component of the California educational system, from kindergarten through graduate school, identifying the system's strengths and weaknesses and finding the bottlenecks in the educational pipeline that are preventing more young Californians from obtaining college degrees. There are perceived to be significant problems in the preparation of K-12 students, particularly in math and science.

California is experiencing a growing shortage of qualified teachers, especially in science and mathematics. Improving teacher quality, particularly at low performing schools, is an important key to improving student performance.

California has moved to correct the situation. After creating the California K-12 Academic Content Standards in Science in the late 1990s the "Standards of Program Quality and Effectiveness for the Subject Matter Requirement for the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential" were created and approved (September, 2001) and most recently "'Single Subject Matter Standards: Science" (February, 2003).

The 23 California State University campuses (400,000 students) are in the process of revising teacher preparation programs and insuring that the earth and space sciences are an integral part of the Subject Matter Preparation. See the document "Single Subject Matter Standards: Science" in its entirety, and "Standards of Program Quality and Effectiveness for the Subject Matter Requirement for the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential" (particularly, "Content Specifications in Science" starting on p. A17 of latter document).

In the last year the California Sate University has entered into a collaboration with NASA with the hopes of developing new secondary science and math teacher preparation programs which will meet the need for more and better prepared secondary science and math teachers.