- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950112
- First Name Corinne
- Last Name Lardy
- Discipline STEM Education (general)
Jenna Porter, Deidre Sessoms, Kelly McDonald
Corinne Lardy, Jenna Porter
Sacramento County in California has a population of almost 1.5 million people, and faces many issues with the recruitment, retention, and ethnicity of STEM teachers which are similar to issues faced nationwide. All school districts in Sacramento County report teacher shortages, with between 5% and 34% of new hires in 2017-18 having “substandard” credentials (Sutcher et al., 2018). Of these, low income schools and those with high percentages of minority students report the highest percentages of non-credentialed teachers. Moreover, STEM teachers with credentials who enter the profession do not reflect the racial and cultural diversity of their students (Banilower et al., 2018). Finally, about 8% of teachers nationwide leave the profession every year (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond 2017a). As a consequence, many students fail to receive inspiring and rigorous STEM education that only a highly qualified teacher can provide – a problem that is particularly acute for low income and ethnically diverse children (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond 2017b).
The goal of this Track 1 Noyce project is to address the above problems by increasing the number, diversity, and quality of preservice teachers entering Sacramento State’s Single Subject Teaching Credential Program (which prepares future middle and high school teachers) in science and mathematics.
A goal of this project is to gain much needed evidence about how to most effectively recruit, retain, and prepare qualified and diverse STEM teachers for Linked Learning Pathways in high-needs secondary schools. Outcomes so far (the project has just completed Year 3) are measured not only by the impact perceived by Scholars, but by their teaching performance as measured by a high-stakes performance assessment that is required for certification, the edTPA. Additionally, this project is working to provide knowledge of how Scholars’ participation in a community of educators, including former Noyce Scholars, current Noyce Master Teaching Fellows, and mentor Linked Learning teachers, contributes to the development and retention of new STEM teachers serving in high-needs Linked Learning Pathway schools. Specific questions we are working to answer include:
1) In what ways do the demographic characteristics of Scholars relate to the decision to pursue teaching as a career, teacher effectiveness, or other outcomes?
2) Which activities and strategies are most successful for recruiting and retaining a large and diverse pool of math and science Noyce Scholars? Which strategies do Noyce Scholars view as key to their decision to enter and stay in the teaching profession?
3) How effective do Noyce Scholars perceive their preparation to be when they exit the credential program? Which support activities do Noyce Scholars perceive to be most and least effective in preparing them to teach STEM in high needs schools, particularly in Linked Learning Pathways?
4) To what extent are math and science preservice teachers (PSTs) who received Noyce support prepared for teaching (as measured by edTPA) compared to those who did not receive Noyce support?
The overall goals of this NSF Noyce award are to increase the number, diversity, and quality of preservice teachers entering Sacramento State’s Single Subject Teaching Credential Program. Over the course of the program, which has just completed its third year, we will recruit and support at least 33 talented and motivated STEM majors to give them a financially feasible option to become a teacher and commit to teaching STEM in high-needs secondary schools. Key project activities to support these goals include: Implement a revised recruitment plan to encourage qualified and diverse STEM majors to complete their STEM degrees and enroll in a one year post-baccalaureate credential program. The program is recruiting undergraduate STEM majors in the junior or senior years and providing support to allow them to complete their undergraduate major and Sacramento State’s one-year post-baccalaureate credentialing program. Provide scholarships to financially support participants (for up to 3 years) as they earn degrees and teaching certification. Support preservice teachers to explore and understand both STEM teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy with special attention to Linked Learning college and career preparation settings; follow and support participants as they proceed through their first year of teaching in a high-needs LEA/district through a revised induction plan that includes university support. Why Linked Learning? Linked Learning is an evidence-based approach to secondary education in which students are prepared for college and career through integrating rigorous academics with real world technical skills and work-based learning within a small learning community, themed according to one of the 15 major industries in California (Linked Learning Alliance, 2015). It uses project-based interdisciplinary instruction to make learning in high school more engaging and relevant to students, especially targeting high schools with high drop-out rates, and/or where substantial numbers of students are low income, culturally, or linguistically diverse. Linked Learning schools consist of career academies or pathways that align with the 15 Industry Sectors in California (e.g. Engineering & Design, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Information Technology). In Linked Learning Pathways, high school students take one course per year in the pathway industry sector; for example, in an engineering pathway, students take one engineering class per year during their sophomore, junior, and senior years. In Linked Learning classes, students engage in authentic practices of scientists, engineers, health care providers, and business people while at the same time learning disciplinary content. As stated by Warner and Caspary (2017), “Linked Learning strives to provide all students – regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, prior academic achievement, or special learning needs – with equitable access to and opportunities for full participation in a variety of high-quality career-themed pathways” (p. 2). Research and our own experience in local high schools suggests that secondary students in Linked Learning programs have higher rates of engagement and higher graduation rates than peers at traditional high schools (Caspary & Warner, 2017; Warner & Caspary, 2017). The state of California has invested half a billion dollars in Linked Learning; our region (including our three partner districts) received $21M of that. In the two most high-needs of our partner districts, which enroll over 110,000 students, 35 separate STEM Linked Learning Pathways were supported by this funding. Our local districts have experienced Linked Learning as very promising especially for equity objectives, but are struggling to fill teaching positions with new teachers who have been prepared specifically for these settings. Sacramento State is the only university in California to offer a Career Pathways Certificate Program to prepare preservice teachers for Linked Learning settings, which is currently being offered for the fifth year. Our Noyce Scholarship program includes the new Certificate, resulting in Noyce Scholars being well-prepared with the special knowledge and skills that a teacher needs in order to be effective in these settings; they learn how to integrate the industry theme and collaborate with colleagues on cross-disciplinary curriculum and projects. Two distinguishing features of our Career Pathways Certificate Program are: 1) the integration of Linked Learning concepts into existing credential courses that are cohorted for those seeking the certificate; and 2) an additional work-based learning course with externship, both which prepare preservice teachers to work in Linked Learning settings.
Results from the project will provide important insights into how to most effectively recruit, retain, and prepare qualified and diverse STEM teachers for pathways to career readiness in high-needs secondary schools. This project will provide knowledge of how Scholars’ participation in a community of educators, including former Noyce Scholars, Noyce Master Teaching Fellows, and mentor teachers, may contribute to the development and retention of new STEM teachers serving in high-needs Career Pathway schools. Following are some of our current findings, as we have just completed the third year of the project: So far, the project has supported 21 Noyce Scholars, 18 of whom have completed their teaching credential program in math or science, and 3 are continuing next year. Eight former Scholars just completed their first year of teaching and two former Scholars completed their second year of teaching. We have piloted a new structure of mentorship, “mentorship trios,” that has the potential to be a very valuable strategy for mentoring preservice STEM teachers and recruiting them into the teaching profession, especially those who are not yet in their final year of their teaching credential program. In this strategy, we have grouped an experienced in-service teacher mentor (a Noyce Track 3 MTF, when possible) with an undergraduate STEM major and a STEM preservice teacher credential candidate. All Scholars who have completed the teaching credential program have earned an additional Career Pathways Certificate, for which they received additional training to teach in Linked Learning Academies and Pathways. The Noyce Scholars in their post-baccalaureate teaching credential program engaged in co-planning curriculum with peers across the disciplines of not only math and science, but English Language Arts, social sciences, health science, art, and family & consumer science, as is done in Linked Learning settings. Final presentations during the annual Linked Learning Showcase, held virtually in Year 1 and in person in Years 2 and 3, have demonstrated Scholars’ core learnings from the Career Pathways Certificate program. Recruitment of Undergraduate Scholars has been challenging, primarily due to COVID. We are currently exploring the reasons behind this challenge, which seems to be connected to a larger challenge of our university losing STEM majors since the pandemic and students deciding not to pursue a career in teaching. In the first three years of the project, we have focused on building our local Noyce community (including current and former Scholars and Track 3 Master Teaching Fellows) as well as expanding the community through joint events with the Noyce project at San Francisco State University and the Western Regional Noyce Network. Participating Scholars have indicated that community-building events in which they are able to interact with other Noyce Scholars and teacher mentors from a wide geographic region have greatly impacted their self-identification as a “Noyce Scholar” and a STEM teacher. What’s more, these community relationships are core to supporting our Scholars to successfully complete the teaching credential program and continuing support in their first years of teaching.
This project will increase the number of highly qualified STEM teachers serving high-needs schools in the Sacramento region and beyond, with particular skill connecting STEM education in the classroom to real-life career applications in Linked Learning pathways. Consequently, this project will improve STEM education equity for the thousands of secondary students who will be taught by Scholars, providing higher quality STEM education as well as exposure to STEM-related careers for traditionally underserved students. The high retention rate in high-needs settings of our former Noyce Scholars (92% of Scholars who were recruited as traditional undergraduates have remained in teaching past the service requirement) ensures that the highest need students will receive the most benefit. The project will also help diversify the STEM workforce by ensuring that all high school students are exposed to quality STEM teaching and receive the foundational knowledge they need to pursue STEM careers. This project will also strengthen bonds between Sacramento State, local high needs schools, and community business partners dedicated to improving STEM education, particularly in Linked Learning settings, thus facilitating future collaborations that will benefit additional students. Our next steps are to build on the knowledge we have gained during the first three years of the project, especially related to successful mentorship, recruitment, and community building strategies, in order to continue to support the success of our Noyce Scholars. Additionally, with 10 Scholars from years one and two now in the classroom and 9 Scholars beginning their first year of teaching in August 2023, we will continue to explore and expand mentorship networking strategies to contribute to the knowledge base of recruiting, training, and supporting STEM teachers.