California State University, Long Beach
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Science Education Receives $950,694 Grant to Improve
Science Teaching at Kindergarten through 2nd Grade Level

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) awarded a four-year, $950,694 grant to the Department of Science Education at CSULB to help improve science teaching in kindergarten through second grade.

The “K-2 Teaching Learning Collaborative” is a partnership between CSULB, Montebello and Garvey school districts in Los Angeles County, as well as the K-12 Alliance, a statewide professional development organization. CSULB’s Department of Science Education is part of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and collaborates with the university’s College of Education.

The grant will fund 42 teachers for a series of summer institutes and small group lesson study teams throughout each school year for the next three years. In addition, a small number of participants will receive additional support to become program facilitators at school sites. The project will also build on the work the districts have done to support English language learners. The summer institute will be coupled with district training in English language development (ELD) and specially designed academic instruction in English (SDAIE).

“It is our hope that the science institute will allow participants to build upon the skills they develop during the ELD institute by providing a content — science — in which to practice ELD and SDAIE strategies with their students,” said Susan Gomez-Zwiep, assistant professor of science education.

She and Assistant Professor William Straits will coordinate the research component that will focus on the program’s impact on student achievement and teacher growth. The current research plan will include both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

The quantitative piece will utilize district ELD and language arts assessments to measure growth in those areas as well as instruments developed specifically for the program to gauge both student and teacher growth in science. The qualitative research methods will provide a deeper, more three-dimensional picture of teacher growth during the three years they participate in the program.

The grant program is modeled after an earlier CPEC program for grades 4-12 and a current program for teachers in grades 4-9 funded through a California Math Science Partnership grant in which CSULB and Montebello Unified and Garvey school districts are also partnered.

The current CPEC grant is part of the federal Improving Teacher Quality program funded under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. In the past two decades, CPEC has administered more than $93 million in federal grants to colleges and universities working with high-need K-12 schools in California.

“The program has had a long-term impact on helping teachers strengthen their content knowledge and their understanding of effective teaching strategies – key elements of education reform,” said CPEC Chair Olivia Singh. “Cal State Long Beach Long Beach and its partner schools should be proud of the quality of their proposal and its potential for improving teaching and learning in the Long Beach area.”

The California Postsecondary Education Commission advises the governor and legislature on higher education policy and fiscal issues.  Its primary focus is to ensure that the state’s educational resources are used effectively to provide Californians with postsecondary education opportunities.