It was a September to remember for the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE) at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), thanks to the announcement of three U.S. Department of Education (DOE) grants totaling $13 million.
“We compete with hundreds of universities and organizations for each of our grants,” said CISE Director and Annenberg Endowed Professor Kamal Hamdan. “Considering the competition, it is very rewarding and exciting to learn that one or more of our proposals were selected for funding.”
A New STAR on Campus
On Sept. 26, Hamdan received word that the DOE had awarded CISE a five-year, $7 million grant through the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program.
The funding will be used to replace CISE’s STEM Teachers in Advanced Residency (STAR) with a more comprehensive program called Residency for Equity through Action and Learning (REAL), or Project REAL.
Project REAL is a 15-month program that enables STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teacher candidates to earn a preliminary teaching credential and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. It also places CSUDH graduate-level teacher candidates in a year-long residency with trained master teachers in high-need (historically understaffed) secondary partner schools within CSUDH’s service area. Those who have gone through Project REAL will be far greater skilled at enabling their students to achieve higher levels of academic preparation and college readiness.
Setting Project REAL apart from other teacher residency programs will be the addition of fabrication technology skill training, which will transform teacher candidates into highly specialized educators. The curriculum will also include new certifications related to students’ areas of focus, such as project-based learning, Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, and computer science.
Participants in Project REAL will also receive a $24,000 stipend to help offset living costs.
“We will be using the knowledge and know-how we’ve acquired through CISE’s innovative fabrication laboratory programs to create a holistic teacher development program at Cal State Dominguez Hills,” said Hamdan. ”Now, our teacher candidates will be ready – before they graduate – to integrate fabrication technology into their lessons and units of instruction through the lens of engineering challenges and complex real-life projects.”
News of the new DOE grant award was timely for CISE. The STAR program was scheduled to end Sept. 30. To help assure the continuity of CSUDH’s teacher resident pipeline, Hamdan applied for a one-year extension for STAR while CISE launches Project REAL.
On Sept. 27, the STAR extension was approved by the DOE and funded with $3 million. Since Oct. 1, both Project REAL and STAR have been operating simultaneously. The impact of both programs are far-reaching, according to Hamdan. More than 250 teachers will be prepared, and at least 40,000 K-12 students in the Los Angeles basin will be served.
Title V Grant
Hamdan received more good news from the DOE in September. He learned that CISE’s proposal for a Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (DHSI) -Title V grant for $3 million was also selected for funding. The money will be used to create Transfer to Success (TTS), a proactive program that supports community college students who transfer to CSUDH.
Transfer to Success is a collaboration between CISE and CSUDH’s Divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.
Improving student retention and time to degree is a major function of the TTS program. Action plans will be developed for all participants to ensure they are able to complete their bachelor’s degrees within two years. The program also supports students after they graduate during their pursuit of advanced degrees, and in their careers.
“This is really huge. It’s transformational for the campus community, and for the schools and communities that we serve,” said Hamdan. “The Title V grant is just another way CSUDH continues to make its mark in the educational landscape across the nation.”