STEM

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Every school day is an opportunity.

In the classroom, students develop the skills they need to participate fully in the twenty-first century economy and community. Teachers are routinely cited as the single most important contributor to student achievement.

New academic standards in California that emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving require new approaches to teaching. These standards and soon-to-be updated credentialing requirements present an opportunity to ensure that both current and future educators are prepared to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for success.

STRATEGIES

Advancing Teaching and Learning

The Foundation invests in high-quality models of math teaching and learning in California’s K-8 classrooms through full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The Foundation seeks to advance math and science teaching and learning in California’s K-8 classrooms by supporting districts that are strongly committed to CCSS-M and NGSS implementation, and by disseminating lessons learned across the state.

The Foundation is investing in its Math Portfolio grantees to:

  • Support K-8 CCSS-M implementation in ten diverse districts to develop successful approaches; share promising practices statewide (Math in Common® initiative).
  • Build the capacity of statewide networks and systems (e.g., Instructional Leadership Corps, County Offices of Education) to support CCSS-M implementation.
  • Invest in CCSS-M advocacy efforts that emphasize the need for high-quality professional development.
  • Fund communications efforts to maintain support for CCSS-M among teachers, students, parents, policymakers, and all other education stakeholders.

The Foundation is investing in its Science Portfolio grantees to:

  • Support K-8 NGSS implementation in eight diverse districts to develop successful approaches; share promising practices statewide (California K-8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative).
  • Support statewide scaling through the Instructional Leadership Corps and County Offices of Education.
  • Invest in advocacy efforts to make NGSS science a core subject.
  • Support the development and implementation of NGSS-aligned assessments.
  • Support the development and sharing of best practices in environmentally-focused NGSS.

Download snapshots:
Math Portfolio (PDF)
Science Portfolio (PDF)

Preparing New and Future Educators

The Foundation invests in high-quality preparation and learning to enhance the skills of new and future educators as they build practices aligned to new academic standards.

The Foundation seeks to ensure that students throughout California have access to teachers who are ready to support learning aligned with the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

The Foundation is investing to:

  • Support selected partnerships between K-12 districts and California State University (CSU) teacher preparation programs in their efforts to advance teacher preparation practices to align with new standards as well as district needs.
  • Fund exemplary clinical preparation and data-sharing partnerships to increase alignment between district needs and teacher preparation.
  • Support advocates in their work to promote clinical preparation and data sharing.

Download snapshot:
Teacher Preparation (PDF)

GRANTEE HIGHLIGHTS

Building Leadership in the Field

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As academic standards in education change, it is vital that teachers are prepared to integrate key shifts into their practices.

California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M), which emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving, has the potential to transform student learning in mathematics. Ensuring that educators are working with the knowledge and resources to address these standards is key to success. Research in the education field uncovered priority needs for the state’s educational practitioners and leaders, and led the Foundation to support school districts directly in implementing inquiry-based teaching aligned to CCSS-M.

Through the Math in Common® initiative, ten school districts serving over 300,000 California youth are leading the way by developing and enacting thoughtful plans to implement Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in grades K–8. This initiative spans the 2013-14 to 2017-2018 school years.

Over a five-year period, participating districts are helping educators address the new standards by:

  • Providing professional development opportunities to support strong instructional practices;
  • Updating instructional materials to align with CCSS-M;
  • Building leadership capacity throughout the participating districts; and
  • Developing strong evaluation plans, including formative and summative measures.

Together, these districts are part of a community of practice in which they share their progress, successes, and challenges. Several learnings from the field are surfacing:

  • Professional development approaches are shifting from more traditional models of learning from experts to embedded structures wherein teachers work collaboratively or side-by-side with diverse groups of colleagues to try out new approaches in their classrooms;
  • Educators are addressing both the content and practice standards, with a widespread emphasis on student academic discourse as a strategy for integrating the standards;
  • Educators face challenges in dealing with an abundance of instructional resources, not all of which are well aligned to the new standards;
  • In general, textbooks are viewed as a resource, not as a script to follow closely;
  • Participation in an active and well-supported community of practice, facilitated by California Education Partners, is providing noticeable benefits by enabling districts to share learnings and resources which expedite their respective districts’ implementation plans;
  • Principals are grappling with their demanding roles as instructional leaders in multiple content areas. An annual summer principal institute, provided as part of the Math in Common community of practice, is building principals’ capacity as site mathematics leaders.

Ultimately, the Foundation intends that the learning from these districts will be used to inform CCSS-M implementation statewide. The Foundation is partnering with California Education Partners, WestEd, and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) in the effort to extend learnings.

California Education Partners and WestEd host websites  with more information on the Math in Common® initiative.

Participating Math in Common® school districts:

Dinuba Oceanside
Elk Grove Sacramento City
Garden Grove San Francisco
Long Beach Sanger
Oakland Santa Ana


Supporting Implementation of Science Standards

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The CA K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative is a four-year demonstration project to support eight California school districts in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Initiative is led by WestEd’s K–12 Alliance in partnership with the California State Board of Education and Achieve; the Initiative is also a component of the California Department of Education’s NGSS implementation plan.

The Initiative consists of leadership training for teachers and administrators, teacher professional development in content and pedagogy to meet the shifts required by NGSS, and support to develop and implement a K–8 districtwide NGSS implementation plan. Participating districts also form a cross-district learning community to share best practices and address problems of practices.

The participating districts include: Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District.


Preparing Teachers in Math and Science

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The Foundation is proud to support the California State University’s New Generation of Educators Initiative. Inspired by the belief that all California students have the right to receive a high quality education and all California teachers have the right to be prepared to teach at the highest level every day, the New Generation of Educators Initiative intends to ensure that graduates of California State University (CSU) teacher preparation programs enter the classroom truly ready for the joys and demands of teaching. Through this and other initiatives, the CSU is leading the way in advancing the new Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. As the largest preparer of teachers in the state, the CSU also has an unparalleled ability to bring innovation to scale.

In recognition of the fact that teacher preparation happens throughout the system, the New Generation of Educators initiative is led by a working group of Arts and Sciences and Education faculty and Deans, and K-12 partners. This working group supports CSU teacher preparation programs to provide teacher candidates with coursework and clinical experiences designed to ensure that teachers master the skills they will need to start strong from their first day in the classroom. CSU leaders at the campus and system level are also engaged, alongside partners from K-12 districts, in data-driven decision making for continuous improvement, which will allow the CSU system to continue to refine its teacher preparation practices for years to come.