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UC Irvine Provides Free Online Science CSET Test Preparation Courses

New Online Courses Provide CSET Preparation, Principles and Pedagogy to Help Teachers Earn Subject Matter Competency and Excel in Science Classrooms

IRVINE, Calif. – May 11, 2010 – The mounting severity of California’s critical shortage of qualified K-12 science teachers has been the impetus for the development of a free CSET preparation program at the University of California, Irvine. The program addresses the urgent need to help new and incumbent teachers prepare for and pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), a test which measures the subject matter competency of teachers seeking credentials to teach science in California schools. Made available as part of the University’s OpenCourseWare initiative – which allows self-learners to view and utilize materials and resources, through the Web, free of charge – the new courses will serve as part of the solution to what many are calling a national crisis.

The Problem: California’s shortage of fully prepared science teachers currently undermines the quality of the state’s education system — a problem that is anticipated to worsen with nearly one third of the state’s teachers expected to retire by 2017.

Not only are there not enough teachers, but many of those currently teaching science are serving out of their particular subject-matter expertise. Faced with a no-win situation, many districts are assigning English, history, or art teachers with emergency credentials to teach science classes – a practice which ultimately impacts the quality of education students receive. Based on The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning “Teaching and California’s Future” 2009 report, approximately 11-18% high school teachers in core subjects are teaching “out of field” in science.

The Solution: “The University of California is committed to the success of our state’s teachers. It is essential that California’s teachers receive the education, tools and support they need to better educate our K-12 science students in a long term effort to sustain California’s economy,” said Gary W. Matkin, Ph.D., dean of continuing education at UC Irvine. “Given that a significant number of teachers do not pass the CSET on their first attempt due to a lack of familiarity with the content and/or the format of the exams, our new science CSET preparation courses will help teachers identify areas requiring further study, or serve as a content refresher, in an effort to help them pass the examination on the first attempt.”

UC Irvine’s free courses should be used as a resource to help teachers identify specific gaps in their subject-matter understanding. Each lesson corresponds to a California Subject Matter Requirement and each topic corresponds to an individual or group of California K-12 Content Standards for Science. The CSET exam itself is tied to these standards.

Courses for CSET Science Subtest I and CSET Science Subtest II exam preparation are available now at http://ocw.uci.edu/courses/?cat=5.

Supported by funding from The Boeing Company, UC Irvine’s initiative complements the “California Teach” plan by the University of California and Governor Schwarzenegger, which is designed to graduate at least four times as many new math and science teachers – from 250 to 1,000 a year – by 2010.

For more information about UC Irvine’s OpenCourseWare CSET courses, please contact Kathy Tam at kstam@uci.edu.

About UC Irvine's OpenCourseWare Initiative

The University of California, Irvine was the first University of California campus–and West Coast University–to join the OCW Consortium. UC Irvine's membership in the OCW Consortium is consistent with its public- and land-grant missions and its desire to play a significant role in contributing to the social welfare of the state, the nation and the world. Open educational resources (OER) showcase the University's high quality education and makes courses and course materials free for everyone in the world. UC Irvine's OCW is a large-scale, Web-based resource that houses educational assets that are discoverable, searchable, modifiable, and, best of all, free and easily available. Through the OCW movement, UC Irvine provides University-quality courses and learning assets to populations of self-learners that are underserved and in many cases, unable to participate in formal education at a university. This site also offers access to UC Irvine's online continuing education offerings. For more information about UC Irvine's OCW initiative, visit http://ocw.uci.edu/, e-mail ocw@unx.uci.edu or follow us at Twitter.com/UCI_OCW and Facebook (UC Irvine OpenCourseWare).

About the University of California, Irvine

Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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