California State University, Long Beach
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STEELI Funded Through 2012

Published: January 30, 2009

The Single Subject Credential Program (SSCP) at CSULB received a $1,466,080 grant running through 2012 funded by the U.S. Department of Education titled Secondary Teacher Education for English Learner Integration (STEELI).

STEELI is a professional development grant written collaboratively by faculty from the College of Education (Karen Hakim-Butt), the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (Babette Benken and Susan Gomez-Zwiep) and the Center for Language Minority Education and Research (KimOanh Nguyen-Lam). The primary investigator is Teacher Education’s Huong Tran Nguyen. STEELI focuses on curricular and instructional improvement with two sub-groups: higher education faculty teaching core courses within the SSCP and pre-service teachers in the SSCP (teacher candidates).

The overarching and immediate goal of the project is to improve the SSCP’s teacher education faculty’s and candidates’ understanding of the academic needs of English Learners and their ability to model and implement instruction that supports limited English learners’ acquisition of language, literacy and content.

“We’re very pleased to receive this grant,” said Hakim-Butt, university coordinator of the SSCP and co-director of the Teacher Preparation Advising Center. “This is great because it represents program improvement based on the annual surveys that we have been conducting for years with our students. Plus, this grant represents an opportunity to work with our faculty members and our candidates to help prepare them to teach their subject specific content and work with English learners in public schools.” The grant goals are two-fold: professional development for both part-time and full-time faculty members to inform them about current instructional issues related to English learners; and instruction about the best practices for English learners through a new course for secondary teacher candidates.

“This new elective course ran for the first time Fall 2008,” said Benken, the STEELI director of evaluation and a member of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics since 2006. “This course attempts to bridge the general education coursework with teacher education content.” Science Education’s Gomez-Zwiep, STEELI director of curriculum, agrees and is excited about the new course.

Benken hopes the participating university-wide faculty members emerge from the professional development experience with more confidence to prepare pre-service candidates to teach K-12 students who do not speak English as their first language in such content areas as math or English. “We also want to look at the program holistically and make some subtle changes in the assessments we make and the approaches we take to curriculum,” she said.

One of the project’s biggest challenges is its interdisciplinary nature, said Hakim-Butt, who joined the university in 1995. “The interdisciplinary effort is challenging but it is indicative of the program as a whole,” she explained. “The Single Subject Credential Program is university-wide. It is the only one of its kind on campus.”

Hakim-Butt believes the primary reason the university received the grant was the U.S. Department of Education’s recognition of CSULB’s program strengths. “They saw the existing collaborative relationship with the Long Beach Unified School District,” she said. “The granting institution recognized a unique university-wide effort between four colleges (Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Health and Human Services, Liberal Arts and Education) and CLMER (housed in the College of Education), which translates to substantial staff and faculty support. Plus, all the grant participants had previous grant experience.” CLMER’s new director, Leslie Reese, is very excited about and supportive of the STEELI grant.

Benken looks forward to using data yielded by their research in presentations and publications. “We’ve already made one presentation before the California Council on Teacher Education in October and the American Educational Research Association recently accepted our proposal to present before their April 2009 national meeting in San Diego,” she said. “We hope to turn one or both these presentations into manuscripts.”

An additional benefit of the grant is that it serves to acquaint the university with the success of the Single Subject Credential Program. “That is true both in terms of how substantial it is and how successful it is,” Benken said. “This will help the university to better know who is involved with the program and the contributions made by various departments.”

Hakim-Butt agrees. “Receiving this grant brings the university one level higher in the job it does in educating our candidates to be K-12 teachers,” she said. “Its effect is community and nationwide.”