program is helping students earn their degrees quicker.
Feb. 2, 2006
by Mimi Ko Cruz
For decades, it wasn't unusual for a Cal State
Fullerton student to graduate with a bachelor's degree and
a teaching credential after having completed 155 or more
units of coursework.
Today, a future elementary school teacher
can receive a bachelor's degree and complete work toward
a credential with as little as 135 units by going through
the university's Streamlined
Teacher Education Program (STEP).
Students who wish to earn a credential to
teach special education or to earn the elementary and education
specialist credentials may do so through this program as
well. Those striving for the education specialist credential
will earn more than 135 units, but not nearly as many as
required by the traditional post-baccalaureate credential
program, said Claire Palmerino, newly named associate dean
in the College of Humanities and Social Science.
Palmerino has received a $192,840 grant from "Milestones
Along the Path," a U.S. Department of Education-funded program
to encourage Hispanic students to enter education as a career
goal. The grant award will be used to support, promote and
administer the campus program, which is in its second year.
The STEP program consists of three phases:
• Pre-STEP, where students must complete lower-division, general education
requirements; declare a major from one of the STEP major options; earn at least
a 2.5 grade-point-average; pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test
(CBEST); complete an early field experience requirement; and submit an application
for Phase II.
• STEP admission in the sophomore year, completion of prerequisites for
the credential program and continued work on major coursework and classroom
• STEP-Credential during which students must earn a 2.75 or higher cumulative
grade-point-average and pass all three subtests of the California Subject Examination
for Teachers, as well as the Examination on Writing Proficiency. During this
phase, students also undergo fingerprint and background checks and take a tuberculosis
Students who complete 15 units each fall and
spring semester and an additional six units during the summer
can finish the program in four years. However, Palmerino
anticipates that most students will complete the program
in four-and-a-half to five years.
A single-subject STEP for future high school
English teachers has been implemented, and STEP for future
high school math, social science and science teachers is
being devised, Palmerino said.
There are more than 400 students in STEP with
the first class of participants set to receive their degrees
and credentials in 2007.
Kristin Luzzi, coordinator of the multiple
subject/special education STEP, keeps tabs on students' progress,
conducts group advisement sessions and follows up with e-mails
or calls to participants to remind them of required courses.
Luzzi also informs STEP students about upcoming events, seminars
Included in the grant is an effort that targets
students from Santa Ana and Fullerton colleges who want to
transfer to CSUF and become teachers. Kate Selyem, community
college relations coordinator in the Center for Careers in
Teaching, spends much of her time reaching out to these students,
explaining the undergraduate teacher-preparation programs
and what to expect upon transfer. Selyem also connects with
community college counselors to inform them about the university's
programs, including STEP, so they can share the information
with their students.
As a result of efforts supported by the grant,
several community colleges either have or are developing
new lower-division courses to assist students in transferring
with the most efficient set of classes in preparation for
the teaching profession, Palmerino said. Included are introductions
to elementary teaching and secondary teaching, technology
and secondary education, science and language development
In addition, there are "mentor mixers" for
community college students who plan to transfer to CSUF to
pursue a teaching credential. The mixers help students become
familiar with the campus.
“The purpose is to help students establish
networks that will make the transition to Cal State Fullerton
smoother,” Palmerino said.
“It's really exciting,” added
Luzzi, who also helps students get involved in campus organizations,
such as the Student California Teachers Association, which
hosts annual conferences on the teaching profession.
STEP also sponsors meet-the-faculty sessions
so that freshmen and transfer students can get to know the
professors who will be teaching them.
“Students in STEP enjoy the benefits
of comprehensive advising, social connections with other
students planning to be teachers, and curriculum designed
to develop their expertise in the subjects they will teach,” Palmerino
STEP is the sequel to the Blended Teacher
Education Program (BTEP) that is being phased out, Palmerino
“BTEP enrollment never went beyond 60
students in a freshman cohort while we had almost 200 students
in our first freshman cohort for STEP,” she said.
“Students in BTEP were required to progress
through the program at a fast pace and in a lockstep fashion
in order to finish the bachelor's degree and credential in
four academic years. Students in STEP are free to advance
according to their own pace. So while it is possible for
students to complete the entire program in four years, it
is not necessarily recommended that they do so. We value
the quality of the student's educational experience in this
program as much as the efficiency it provides.
“STEP is much more student friendly,” added
Palmerino. “It makes a lot more sense and we're getting
three times the number of students enrolling.”
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