Pacific University Awarded Nearly $800,000 to Advance its Innovative Teacher Education Program

The National Science Foundation has awarded Pacific University a grant of $798,069 for the second phase of its highly successful Noyce Scholarship program, a degree track that prepares new educators for proficiency in teaching the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. 

The grant will help fund scholarships for the latest phase of the program, known as Pacific ELSTEM, which is designed to increase the number of new middle and high school STEM teachers equipped to serve in multicultural, multilingual and high-needs schools.

The project is an innovative collaboration of Pacific's Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences, the Woodburn School District, the TeachOregon Consortium and the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership. Noyce Scholars will receive instruction and training through the clinically-based Master of Arts in STEM Teaching and English Language Learning degree program, based at Pacific’s Woodburn campus. 

"The focus of this project is to prepare culturally and linguistically diverse teachers in the STEM disciplines, as well as carry out research on teaching English Language Learners in STEM classrooms," said professor Kevin Carr, director of the university's Woodburn campus and leadproject administrator. 

Carr noted that the university is one of approximately eight recipients out of more than 60 institutions who received initial Noyce Scholarship program grants to receive additional funding. "Through the support and innovative spirit of Pacific and our partners, we are now recognized by the NSF as national leaders in training STEM teachers," he said. 

Pacific ELSTEM provides those who desire to teach the STEM disciplines with a financially attractive and seamless pathway for both undergraduate students and post-baccalaureate students who are looking to enter the education field from another profession. 

The program provides up to two years of Noyce Scholarship support for 40 exemplary STEM teaching candidates, who in exchange, agree to two years of service in a high-needs school district for each year of scholarship support received. 

Grant funding for the Pacific ELSTEM will be allocated over a five-year period, beginning Aug. 1. During this time, the project aims to induct 40 new STEM teachers into high-needs K-12 schools in Oregon. 

"This grant will allow us to critically examine the effect of making STEM academic language development a central focus of clinical STEM teacher preparation," Carr said. "We expect this project will build on prior NSF initiatives in STEM literacy, making critical breakthroughs in understanding how STEM teachers can be best prepared to teach in high-needs schools." 

Pacific's College of Education developed ELSTEM in response to an increasingly multilingual, multicultural Oregon student population, state and national calls to close the STEM achievement gap and national mandates to rethink and reconstruct teacher preparation programs. 

For more information, please call 503-352-1443.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014