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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE DRI FELLOWS Recruitment An active recruitment and public awareness campaign which incorporated the following strategies was instituted. Contact was made with the separation transition units on the Los Angeles area military bases. A presentation was made at the El Toro Marine Base. The DRI staff was placed in contact with interested people on the Los Angeles Air Force Base via e-mail. A targeted news release was sent to local newspapers, aerospace-and defense-industry company newsletters, and national publications of interest to the military (e.g., Army Times) or to aerospace engineers (e.g., Electronic Engineering Times). Appendix F includes the news release announcing the program and examples of press coverage. Los Angeles area Private Industry Councils (PIC) were contacted and a presentation was made at the Verdugo Hills PIC. Letters and brochures were sent to Human Relations offices associated with local industry. A flyer was placed in the pay envelopes of Los Angeles Unified School District. This was one of the more successful recruitment strategies. A recruitment brochure was sent to interested people (also included in Appendix F). Media coverage was more extensive than originally anticipated and engendered an editorial in the Los Angeles Times urging more of such programs.9 “I have always wanted to teach, but couldn’t get out of the rat race long enough to getthe proper credentials,” said one aerospace engineer who responded to a newspaper story. “Although I’m being forced out, I’m now looking forward to a whole new career. I worry about taking a pay cut, but I think teaching will have other rewards.” Selection Because several reports have indicated that one reason for teacher burnout is a feeling of isolation, and that the most effective teachers are those who communicate with one another10, DRIAB recommended that the Fellows have, in addition to their academic qualifications, the following qualities: aptitude for team building, ability to form and work within a support group, ability to engage in discourse. Moreover, because the teachers were being encouraged to teach in Los Angeles inner city schools, where there is a diverse student population, sensitivity to issues of access and equity are important. DRIAB members also recommended active recruitment of women and minorities to serve as role models for a diverse student population. 9 “A Retraining Program that Adds Up”. Orange County Perspective, Los Angeles Times. Sunday, August 20, 1995. 10 Mary Jane T. Pearson and Bill Honig. Success for Beginning Teachers. California Department of Education, Sacramento. 1992; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. What Matters Most: Teaching for Ameria’s Future. 1996; National Research Council. “Science Teaching Standards”. National Science Eduation Standards. National Academy Press. 1996; Martin Haberman. Star Teachers of Children in Poverty. Kappa Delta Press. 1996.
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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE Application forms were developed using guidelines from other NRC Fellowship programs and the required CSULB forms. Approximately 250 applications were sent to individuals and groups after being requested. Sixty-three completed applications were received. Of these applicants, seven described themselves as African-American, six as Hispanic, 11 as Asian, 34 as White, three as “Other”, and two declined to answer. Fifty-seven applicants were male and six were female, a proportion which reflects the population from which the applicant pool was drawn. A selection panel consisting of DRIAB members, representatives from LAUSD and CSULB, and DRI staff read the completed applications. Each application was read by three individuals and given a numerical rating. The rating criteria follows: Interest in and dedication to entering teaching; e.g., registration for or completion of examinations required for certification, participation in activities involving children, or some experience in teaching children or adults; Knowledge of or sensitivity to the urban school setting as evidenced by practical, realistic comments in the personal statement; Experience in working effectively in a team situation; Strong content background in mathematics or science; and Breadth of background in coursework and interests. The top 45 applicants were invited for interview. Four declined the interview. Of those interviewed, four described themselves as African American, six as Hispanic, seven as Asian, 23 as White, and one as “Other”. Of this group, 38 were male and three were female. The DRIAB approved the use of the Haberman Urban Teachers Selection Interview (Appendix G). The Interview has been used by several large school districts to select teachers who will be most likely to be successful in an urban setting. Ten members of the LAUSD personnel department, one representative from CSULB, five DRIAB members, and two DRI staff participated in a one-day training session for the interview. Two trained interviewers interviewed each of the 41 candidates. The Haberman Interview evaluates candidates using a numerical rating system based on persistence in problem solving, willingness to support student learning in the face of or even against school policy, ability to put ideas into practice, reaction to “at-risk” students, professionalism in orientation to students, ability to cope with potential burnout, and ability to accept and deal with their own human fallibility. These criteria were developed by Dr. Haberman after years of studying successful and unsuccessful teachers of inner city children in poverty. Twenty DRI Fellows and four alternates were chosen on the basis of the scores from the reading panel and the scores by the interviewers. Of this group, three asked to defer until the next cohort (one because of previous summer plans, two for health reasons), two decided to continue as aerospace consultants, two decided that the driving/travel time was prohibitive, one decided to enter another certification program, and one had been still employed in aerospace and decided not to leave.
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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE Profile of the Fifteen DRI Fellows, 1995 Average age: 48 Ethnicity: two African American, one Asian, five Hispanic, seven White Gender: one Female, 14 Male Education: nine Bachelor’s in an engineering field; three Master’s in an engineering field, one Bachelor’s in Mathematics, one Bachelor’s in Physics, one Bachelor’s in Economics Previous Employment: All were previously employed in aerospace CBEST11: seven passed, six had not yet taken:12 Language other than English: five Spanish, one Farsi, one German, one French “I spent time in the military and in the defense industry,” said one newly recruited DRI Fellow, who was a former Air Force colonel. “I know that the United States is going to need a technologically capable, scientifically literate populace, and I am now in a position to be able to affect the education of the citizens of tomorrow.” Table 1 compares the average score each Fellow received from reviewers of the applications, the average score for the Haberman Interview, and the status of the Fellow as of December 1998. As can be seen, having a low score in one or both of the selection methods did not necessarily predict which Fellows would leave the program or be successful in their teaching. In fact, the person with the lowest score after application review and the person with the lowest interview score are both successful teachers in inner city schools. It should be noted, however, these represent the highest scores among the 41 candidates interviewed. DRI Fellow P.P., who came to the United States as a poverty-stricken teenager from South America, recalls what it was like going to school with only limited English skills. “I want to be a role model and show [the Hispanic students] that it can be done,” he said. “That they can make a good life for themselves through education.” 11 California Basic Education Skills Test. Passing this test is required for all teachers in California. 12 All six took the examination before beginning the program or shortly thereafter and all six passed on the first attempt.
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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE Table 1. Application and Interview Scores of the DRI Fellows with Their Status at the End of the Project DRI Fellow Reference Number Average Written Application Score (4.0 possible) Haberman Interview Score (45 possible) Status as of December 1998 1 3.9 38.88 Teaches math full-time, LA urban high school 2 3.67 37.0 Taught math full-time in two LA urban schools, currently teaches part-time in LA adult school 3 3.57 31.3 Teaches math full-time, Long Beach continuation high school 4 3.27 38.25 Left program after one year of teaching in urban middle school due to dislike of teaching 5 3.27 35.88 Teaches math full-time in LA urban high school 6 3.15 33.88 Teaches math part-time in LA adult school 7 3.13 33.68 Left the program before student teaching due to unwillingness to complete credential requirements 8 2.9 29 Left program after one year of teaching in urban high school because of personal financial reasons 9 2.6 28.25 Left program after two months for personal reasons 10 2.6 23.25 Teaches math full-time in LA urban middle school 11 2.5 30.13 Was dismissed from the program because of poor reviews by Cooperating Teachers 12 2.47 34.13 Teaches chemistry full-time in Pomona suburban school 13 2.43 32.88 Substitute taught in various urban and private schools, currently on medical leave 14 2.37 38.88 Teaches math full-time in Orange County urban school 15 2.04 27.63 Teaches math and science full-time in LA urban school
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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE Progress During the credential phase of the program, each Fellow received a stipend of $22,000. Since most people who go into teaching as a second career get no stipend at all during the transition, and most of the Fellows had been out of work or had been working at low paying jobs, the stipend was viewed as an added bonus to the certification. Some applicants still worked in aerospace at higher salaries than the stipend, and applied because they feared for their jobs. The Fellows felt this stipend, more than most programs, was adequate for expenses while transitioning into a new career. The CSULB fees for the credential program were also paid for through the DRI subcontract with CSULB. Three DRI Fellows did not complete the credential program. One resigned early in the program due to personal reasons. A second was asked to leave the program before the student teaching period because of several poor evaluations from his Cooperating Teachers. A third returned to the engineering field, having become disgruntled about the California credentialing requirements. Two of the remaining 12 Fellows chose physical science as a credential subject, ten Fellows chose mathematics. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requires proof of subject matter competence in order to obtain a single subject teaching credential. Unless a candidate has recently completed an approved course of study in the discipline, two tests are required. The first test is the “Single Subject Assessments for Teaching” (SSAT), which is a multiple-choice question examination administered by National Evaluation Systems. All teaching candidates must pass this examination. The second test is the problem-oriented “Praxis Series: Professional Assessments for Beginning Teachers” administered by Education Testing Service. This examination is single subject based. The Praxis test proved to be a considerable stumbling block, especially to the Fellows in mathematics. If a candidate has an undergraduate degree in the subject matter, they can waive taking this examination, but for all other non-majors regardless of their past subject matter coursework, they are required to pass this examination. The two Fellows who took the physical science credential did not experience the same long-term failure of passing their Praxis examination. When none of the Fellows passed the Praxis examination at the first attempt, it became their major focus, which made any other activities peripheral in their view. In fact, the overall cumulative pass rate for all participants taking the mathematics Praxis examination is 15.1 percent.13 Because CSULB had previous experience in programs for adults choosing teaching as a second career, some difficulty for the Fellows in passing these examinations was anticipated and planned for. The CSULB program included a course in discreet mathematics offered by a mathematics professor during the introductory summer session. It also included structured time when the Fellows could tutor each other, called ‘Operation Bootstrap.’ However, the version of the Praxis examination which the DRI Fellows took was new and the Fellows were among the first groups to take the current version. Therefore, planning for the coursework and tutoring was based only upon assumptions about what might be on the examination. After the first unsuccessful attempt at the Praxis examination, mathematics or physical science graduate students were hired to tutor the Fellows on identified areas of weakness. During the second half of the program at CSULB, a tutor was hired who specifically tutored toward passing the Praxis examination. By the 13 Brunsman, Bethany A. and Robert E. Carlson. Annual Report on the Praxis and SSAT Examinations in English, Mathematics, and Social Sciences December 1995-June 1998.California Teacher Credentialing. Sacramento, April 1999.
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FINAL REPORT TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE On the DEFENSE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE end of 1998, four of the remaining mathematics Fellows still have not passed Praxis. None have made an attempt at re-taking the test since they began teaching. Of the two who are employed in full-time teaching positions, one has completed all coursework in mathematics to fulfill the credential requirement without taking the Praxis examination, the other has begun to do so. The remaining two are teaching part-time or substitute teaching, one in adult school. As the Fellows entered their first year of teaching, five were employed full-time in LAUSD inner city schools. Of the others, most were employed in urban schools. The average starting salary was $30,343. Two Fellows left the program after one year, one for personal financial reasons (although he wishes to return to teaching eventually) and one because she found she did not like the constant challenge of classroom management, the politics of school administration, and teaching, in general. After two years of teaching, five Fellows remain employed at their original school, two are employed full-time at schools other than their original school, two are teaching in adult school, and one has taken a hiatus from teaching due to health problems. One of the Fellows who left after one year of teaching said, “I am grateful to the DRI program for renewing the confidence and discipline I thought I had lost in the intervening years since my previous college experiences. I think it takes a special ‘gene’ to be a teacher, and I just didn’t have it and couldn’t develop it.” Throughout the project, several Fellows reported that they had offers to return to the aerospace industry on either a permanent or temporary basis. The Fellows declined these offers. In the final stages of the program, the external evaluator asked the Fellows about their plans to remain in teaching. All nine of the remaining DRI Fellows said that they plan to remain in the field for the rest of their career, whereas less than 60 percent of teachers nationally give that response.14 According to the program evaluator, as the program progressed, there was a significant positive shift in the Fellows’ attitudes toward the methods of teaching which are congruent with recommendations of national and state education reform documents. In the Year One Report, the evaluator reported that five of the 15 Fellows had negative attitudes about the teaching methods endorsed by state and national reform documents. In the Year Two Report from the same evaluator, ten of the remaining 12 Fellows reported that they were “anxious to try these techniques out” on their “own” students. The remaining two categorized themselves as “receptive” o using less traditional methods. The factors for this change included the Fellows’ observation of student excitement when the more interactive methods and curricula were used versus the student boredom when the teaching was more traditional, as well as the boredom felt by the Fellows themselves after spending time in a traditional classroom. By the end of the Fellows’ second year of teaching, the program evaluator noted that most of the DRI Fellows were not only basing almost all of their preparation, delivery, and assessment practices on the standards, but many were encouraging other teachers in this direction as well. He observed that 14 Jainping Shen. “Has the Alternative Certification Policy Materialized Its Promise? A Comparison Between Traditionally and Alternatively Certified Teachers in Public Schools”. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 19, # 3, Fall, 1997.
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