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December 3, 2012

CCNY Gets $1.2 Million Grant to Train Science, Math Teachers

Professor Depsina Stylinou (lower left), principal investigator for the Noyce TA Scholars Program with co-PIs (left to right) Professors Issa Samale, Richard Steinberg and Yael Weiner.

Award from Noyce Foundation will support 42 Scholars who will help address shortage of highly qualified math and science teachers in NYC schools

In an effort to help reduce the shortage of highly qualified science and math teachers working in New York City secondary schools, The City College of New York School of Education has established the Robert Noyce Teacher Academy Scholars Program (CCNY Noyce TA Scholars Program). The program will prepare 42 undergraduate STEM majors (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for careers teaching grades 7 – 12 in urban schools.

The CCNY Noyce TA Scholars Program will award two-year scholarships and stipends to 42 students organized in cohorts of 14 per year. Scholars will follow a revamped course of study that combines theory and practice, and also participate in internships and an early-career support program during their first year of teaching.

The program is supported by a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the Noyce Foundation administered by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Despina Stylianou, professor of mathematics education, is principal investigator.

“President Obama has called for training more science and math teachers nationwide, and the need in New York City is without equal,” Professor Stylianou said. “Ideally, we want to take students from urban schools, train them and return them as excellent teachers. Even a cohort of 14 highly qualified teachers can impact thousands of students over their careers.”

While there is a nationwide shortage of credentialed science and math teachers, the problem is particularly acute at secondary schools in low-income, urban communities. In low-income schools, more than 40 percent of students are taught math by out-of-field teachers, compared to 16 percent in wealthier districts, researcher Richard I. Ingersoll reported in 2008.

Not only is finding qualified teachers problematic, but so is retaining them. In New York, in particular, people with the aptitude to become good science and math teachers are often drawn to more lucrative professions such as finance and medicine, Professor Stylianou noted.

The CCNY Noyce TA Scholars Program will address these challenges not only by offering financial incentives but; by restructuring the academic program to put greater emphasis on pre-service classroom experience. Scholars will bridge the gap between theory and practice by apprenticing with top teachers at: City College Academy of the Arts, Thurgood Marshall Academy, A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, Mott Hall High School and Lower East Side Preparatory High School.

In addition, they will have summer internship opportunities working either with summer STEM programs held at City College or on research projects conducted by faculty at CCNY and other CUNY campuses. Further, during each semester they will be required to work in existing City College-run tutoring or mentoring programs, or participate in a service-learning project. They will also be required to attend workshops on urban education challenges led by veteran teachers and CCNY faculty.

In-service content workshops and e-mentoring comprise the early-career support that will be provided to graduates of the program working as teachers. The workshops will include summer institutes and support during the academic year in the form of classroom observations, co-teaching and modeling, followed up by teacher-researcher conferences and professional development sessions. Scholars will also participate in online learning communities with sessions at least twice a month.

The School of Education is currently recruiting the first cohort of Noyce TA Scholars, and has set December 15 as the deadline to apply. Enrollment is open to current CCNY students as well as students at CUNY community colleges who plan to transfer to City College. To be eligible, students must have a 3.0 or higher grade point average and they must submit an essay, three letters of recommendation and their transcript.

After graduation, Noyce Scholars will be required to teach in an urban school for two years for each year of financial support they received, for up to four years. The public service requirement must be completed within eight years of graduation.

In addition to Professor Stylianou, co-principal investigators on the grant are: Professors Richard Steinberg, Issa Salame and Yael Wyner, all of whom hold dual appointments in City College’s Division of Science as well as the School of Education. Dr. Bruce Billig, director of the School of Education’s Office of Field Experiences, will serve as project director.

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