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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Culturally Responsive Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

The challenge of preparing more qualified STEM teachers is a national issue, with the White House calling for 100,000 new STEM teachers to be trained within the next decade. CCE’s preliminary analysis of the Title II data for Massachusetts (which states report to the Department of Education) shows an uphill battle to reach this goal. From 2011-2014 (the most recent data available) only 13% (2,510 out of 19,305 total) of new teacher licenses in MA were awarded in STEM. More than half of the awarded licenses were in math (54%), with a smaller number awarded in the sciences—Biology (17%) and Chemistry (6%)—and just 5% of licenses were in Technology/Engineering.

But we don’t just need more STEM teachers we need culturally responsive STEM teachers. Geneva Gay, a leading scholar in multicultural education, defines culturally responsive teaching (CRT) as an instructional approach that uses “the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively”. A growing body of research, including our recent reports on opportunity and equity for Black and Latino males in Boston Public Schools, demonstrates the importance of culturally responsive or culturally-sustaining practices to support the success of students of color; but research also shows that culturally responsive teaching may be particularly low in math and science.

The low prevalence of CRT in math and science only serves to further disadvantage many African American, Latino, and Native American students. These students are underrepresented in STEM, less likely to have access to advanced courses in math and science and be taught by a certified teacher in these areas, and often subject to stereotype threat and unconscious bias in STEM subject areas. To support the academic success of students of color who are marginalized by our education system, we must increase CRT in math and science and improve access to courses and qualified teachers in those subject areas.

CCE’s Los Angeles Urban Teacher Residency (LAUTR) takes on the challenge to prepare culturally responsive STEM teachers head on. LAUTR is an intensive 18 - 24 month graduate-level program that uses a social justice framework. Residents of the program, which is housed at California State University – Los Angeles, earn a MA in Integrated STEM Education and a preliminary credential as either an Education Specialist with STEM Specialization or a single-subject credential in Math or Science (there is also an option for special education specialization). In addition to master’s-level education coursework aligned with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession and Teaching Performance Expectations, LAUTR residents co-teach alongside mentor teachers for an entire school year in an urban public school.

To learn more about LAUTR, sign up for an upcoming info session!

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