Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- November 13, 2002

A Master Of Arts Degree In Teaching Mathematics Has Been Approved At California State University, Bakersfield

In a letter to CSUB President Tomas Arciniega, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed approved the new program, effective with the fall quarter 2002. "Upon the recommendation of my staff, I am pleased to grant approval for California State University, Bakersfield to offer the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics," Reed said in his letter.

The new program, the 21st master_s degree program at CSUB, is designed to enable secondary and middle school mathematics teachers from Kern and surrounding counties to deepen their understanding of mathematics and math teaching methods. "The program is tightly focused on the content of Secondary School Mathematics (grades 8-12)," said Joe Fiedler, a CSUB mathematics professor who has been principally involved in formulating the new degree program.

"What the Department of Mathematics has tried to do with this new program is to address a critical need in the community," Fiedler said. "In Kern County there are more than 250 high school math teachers, and only half of them have a single subject credential in Mathematics. The Kern County Superintendent of Schools estimates that in Kern County the annual turnover rate for mathematics teachers is 15 percent. This means that Kern County schools annually hire some 30 new mathematics teachers. Right now we graduate 12 to 15 new math teachers (with bachelor’s degrees) a year --and that doesn’t even replace those math teachers who retire or move.

"This shortfall in production has been managed by local districts with anumber of strategies, including hiring teachers who are only marginallyqualified to teach mathematics. Since CSUB is the only university in a 100-mile-radius service-area and the vast majority of Kern County teachers are place-bound by family and career obligations, it’s imperative that we address the ongoing training of mathematics teachers. This new degree will go a long way toward putting qualified math teachers in our high school classrooms."

Janice Chavez, dean of graduate studies at CSUB, the new degree program "will have a significant impact on K-12 education in our community.

There is a tremendous shortage of qualified math and science teachers and this will help alleviate that shortage. The more well trained our teachers, the better quality of education students in our area will receive. As a result they_ll be more successful once they reach college level. Better trained teachers mean a better quality of instruction."

Fiedler said the program is designed for working math teachers. "The degree consists of eight courses and a culminating project for a total of 45 quarter credits. Courses are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening to fit the schedule of our intended audience. The sequence of courses is designed to be accessible to teachers who hold or might hold a supplementary authorization in mathematics."

He said the first graduates should complete their degrees next summer. "We anticipate about a dozen teachers completing the master_s program each year," he said.

Fiedler said that in addition to having better trained teachers, the program has another benefit. He said that many good math teachers earn master_s degrees in counseling or some other subject to advance their careers and leave math teaching behind. "This program allows an alternative career path that helps keep good teachers in the classroom," he said.

For more information on the new master of arts in teaching mathematics degree, please call the Office of Graduate Studies and Research at (661)664-2231, or the Department of Mathematics at (661) 664-3151.

: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456,

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