CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Receives $7.3 Million for Teacher Training at High-Need Schools

Date: 10-08-2009

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico has received a $7.3 million grant from the Department of Education to partner with high-need schools in four North State school districts to improve teaching and aid student achievement.

CSU, Chico was one of 28 universities nationally to be awarded $43 million in federal Teacher Quality Partnership grants. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a news release Sept. 29, said the grants will “improve student academic achievement by strengthening teacher preparation, training and effectiveness and help school districts attract potential educators from a wide-range of professional backgrounds into the teaching profession.”

The school districts partnering with CSU, Chico’s School of Education are Cascade Union, Marysville Unified, Orland Joint Unified and Palermo Union.

The five-year grant to CSU, Chico has two parts: a teacher training program that includes a year residency in the partnering school districts as part of an 18-month program that results in a teaching credential and master’s degree; and an undergraduate program that blends the elementary education Liberal Studies major with preparation to work with special education students and English learners.

The teacher training residencies will be established at 24 elementary schools and seven middle schools in the four school districts.

Other California universities receiving the federal grants were CSU, Bakersfield; CSU, Dominguez Hills; CSU, Los Angeles; and UCLA.

Overseeing the CSU, Chico grant projects will be College of Communication and Education Dean Phyllis Fernlund and professors Maggie Payne and Michelle Cepello.

The CSU, Chico Research Foundation will provide general and fiscal management support for the grant projects.

Fernlund said this academic year will focus on establishing the university-school partnerships and preparation for CSU, Chico faculty and K-12 teachers. Applications for the new teacher training residencies will be accepted starting in spring 2010.

“In a time of declining resources, this is welcome funding as we seek to retain and expand our university-school partnerships,” said Fernlund. “Our goals are to improve teaching and learning in partner schools and expand those practices throughout the North State.

Fernlund said the federal grant had very specific eligibility requirements for high-needs schools, including teacher turnover and the poverty rate of the school district. “Our proposal emphasized the rural nature of our region and the need for teachers to be prepared to work with many different students, from English learners to students with disabilities,” she said. “The changes in our teacher preparation programs will include professional development opportunities for experienced classroom teachers as well as for our students and teacher residents.”

Fernlund said teacher training that leads to a high-quality teacher is essential to student achievement. “Teachers have to find ways for students to learn and then also find out when and why students have not learned. A new intervention is often needed whose impact also must be assessed. In addition to this essential role, a teacher is a partner with other teachers, resource specialists, administrators, parents and community members. Although this teamwork may not be visible, it is critical to student success.”

The College of Communication and Education (CME) is a professional college formed from two separate colleges in 1991. The School of Communication, the School of Education, the Liberal Studies program, and the departments of Kinesiology and Recreation and Parks Management are in the college. Two distinctive characteristics of all CME programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels are student internships and high-quality, high-tech learning environments.

The nonprofit CSU, Chico Research Foundation, incorporated in 1997 as an auxiliary to the University, manages more than 600 grant and contract accounts each year, many staffed by student and faculty researchers.