Story Teacher Preparation

Partnering Up to Tackle The STEM Teacher Shortage

Christianne Salvador



​​How can we recruit future educators in greater numbers and provide the high-quality resources needed to help them transform into excellent STEM teachers? The critical shortage of teachers, especially teachers in STEM fields, is no longer just a state issue, but has evolved into a national crisis – a challenge the California State University is committed to tackling. By partnering with organizations, local school districts and community colleges that share a vision of eliminating the STEM teacher shortage, the CSU has developed effective strategies in graduating future STEM teachers to meet California and America's need.

In California alone, the projected need for new math and science teachers in the next ten years continues to exceed 33,000. As the leading producer of K-12 teachers, the CSU remains committed to bolstering efforts in producing more highly qualified teacher candidates. Last year, the CSU awarded a total of 6,500 teaching credentials – STEM credentials accounting for 1,525 – making the CSU the largest producer of K-12 and STEM teachers in the nation.

Through partnerships, the CSU has maintained its efficiency in addressing the teacher shortage. Initiatives, such as the 100Kin10, enable the CSU to team up with other nonprofits, foundations and government agencies with the goal of training 100,000 STEM teachers in the next ten years. On September 26, the CSU Chancellor's Office held a conference for its 100Kin10 partners to examine the initiative's progress and current practices. Loren Blanchard, CSU's executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, opened the event by speaking about the power in partnerships and developing student interest in order to meet the demand.

"Along with Graduation Initiative 2025, partnerships are critical in closing California's STEM teacher shortage," said Blanchard. "Strengthening the CSU's partnerships with local K-12 school districts, community colleges and civic organizations is the only way we can meet this hefty goal because it would be impossible to do it on our own.

"The demand for jobs in the next 10 years lies in STEM industries. It is our responsibility to help students understand the value in entering careers in STEM, and more importantly, create a desire for students to pursue teaching careers in the STEM discipline."

Partnerships between the CSU and community colleges have been successful in recruiting and retaining STEM teacher candidates. Cal State Fullerton is one of the CSU campuses that has partnered with local community colleges and surrounding Orange County school districts for The Teacher Pathway Partnership (TPP). TPP recruits underrepresented high schoolers and community college students to participate in an immersive summer program at Cal State Fullerton that assists them in making informed decisions on becoming STEM teachers. Students are taught by NASA-JPL educators and are exposed to the basics of becoming a teacher, including classroom management and science pedagogy. Upon completion of the summer course, students with continued interest in STEM education will enter an educational pipeline that leads to the teacher credential program.

Bryan Cruz, who recently completed the Summer STEM institute and is now beginning his junior year at Cal State Fullerton, found the program impactful as it helped carve his career path into becoming an educator. "TPP program administrators reached out to me when I expressed an interest in teaching while I was attending Fullerton College. At the time, I didn't quite have a direction mapped out. But after participating in the Summer STEM Institute, I now know that I want to get my teaching credential so I can become a middle school science teacher."

At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program collaborates more than 25 national science laboratories, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. STAR is founded on the principle that the best way to teach STEM is to conduct STEM-related research. The STAR program aims to strengthen the connection between the fields of research and education by pairing each program fellow with a professional mentor or mentoring group. STAR fellows are specially trained to bring innovative investigative approaches to the classroom to better engage K-12 students in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The paid, ​nine-week summer research experience program is offered to aspiring K-12 STEM teachers from all 23 CSU campuses. The program is funded through partnerships with public agencies and partners such as 100kin10, Chevron, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

A partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education led Sonoma State University to become a leader in the Maker Movement, offering the first and only Maker Educator Certificate Program for new teachers in concert with local educational agencies and K-12 school districts. The White House-recognized certificate program trains teachers to effectively establish a MakerSpace on their campus - a designated area that provides students with the materials and equipment to conceive, collaborate and learn through building their own innovations. Teachers certified as a Maker Educator have the knowledge and ability to offer ways to enhance learning in the classroom through hands-on making. The Maker Movement offers engaging strategies for implementing the state's new standards in science and for highlighting engineering design.

Regardless of the campus, all of CSU's STEM teacher preparation programs are part of a robust ecosystem consisting of research-based classroom instruction, hands-on teaching and collaborations with leading national science institutions. Evidence from the past decade indicates that these partnerships have the greatest promise for fostering success and interest in STEM fields among all students and especially those of diverse backgrounds.

For more information on CSU's teacher credential programs, visit