Fresno State is working to reverse an acute shortage of qualified math teachers in California by introducing students with an interest in math to rewarding teaching careers.

The Department of Mathematics at Fresno State received a five-year, $1.4 million award from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships to help math majors in the integrated credential option pay tuition and other costs so they can concentrate on earning their degrees.

The NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship will provide 44 junior and senior math majors, who want to be teachers, with $10,000 scholarships each year.

The award gives financial relief to students enrolled in the University’s rigorous integrated credential program, in which they can earn their bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials in four years instead of the traditional five.

“With this grant, we can lead and create a new pathway for students to teaching. I hope this will help us to increase the number of teachers we are producing,” said Dr. Rajee Amarasinghe, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics at Fresno State. “If we are successful, this will be a model for the other universities in the California State University system.”

In addition to scholarships, the program known as “Growing Outstanding Teachers of Math” (GOTMath) will also provide academic and extra-curricular support to help students thrive in difficult classes.

Students will participate in bi-weekly seminar series with master teachers and education researchers to learn about best teaching practices. They will have content-focused mentoring from faculty and other students to understand what it means to engage in mathematics.

The other component of the project is outreach. The Department of Mathematics will continue to target freshmen and sophomore math students interested in teaching. Students become eligible for the Noyce Scholar program as juniors. But the department, along with current students, will also recruit high schoolers and community college students and expose them to math and teaching through early field experiences like classroom visits, summer research and other programs.

“GOTMath will expand the University’s legacy of producing math teachers and leaders who inspire all students in classrooms throughout the Central Valley,” said Dr. Robert Harper, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

On a regional level, the project will include collaboration between Fresno, Clovis and Sanger unified school districts and the Education Futures Project made up of 14 community colleges to discuss ways to work together to strengthen the teacher prep pipeline.

“This grant will have a very positive impact on mathematics teaching in the Valley and beyond,” said Dr. Christopher Meyer, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Fresno State. “The award is a testament to the talent and dedication of the faculty in the department who are actively engaged in outreach as well as the integration of teaching and research.”