Tennessee STEM School Designation Update

Where are we in the designation process?

Schools across the state have been building the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) foundation for practices that help students become independent and reflective thinkers, effective collaborators, and problem solvers that can innovate Tennessee’s future.  The 2017-2018 STEM School Designation application window has closed.  Schools that are awarded designation, will be recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education at the 2018 Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit in Nashville, TN.

What has the response been?

Tennessee’s schools have shown growing interest in the designation process with over 40 applications for 2017-2018 award year received.  Each of these schools has invested time to self-assess their current STEM programming and scale up in areas to meet the designation priorities. These priority areas are broken down into STEM attributes that focus on school leadership as the driver for change, professional capacity of faculty and staff, student-centered learning climate, and community partnerships.

What are next steps for schools that have applied?

The 40 schools that have submitted their intent to apply for Tennessee STEM School Designation are now collaborating internally to create a portfolio application due at the end of December.  This portfolio consists of artifacts that show evidence for each of the STEM attributes outlined within the designation rubric.  Applications will be reviewed in January.  Schools under consideration to be named a Tennessee STEM School will be contacted to schedule a site visit in early spring.  Awardees will be announced in May.

One applicant noted that while the designation rubric affirmed their STEM programming was forward-thinking, they were energized by the new ideas garnered from the STEM attributes that could continue to grow and innovate their STEM program.

The process was created to provide a roadmap for integrating STEM strategies into a school’s instruction and design and to recognize those schools for their use of promising practices.  Programs that incorporate the STEM attributes provide students with the tools they need to be successful as they progress through their education, whether they go to college or enter the workforce.  The Tennessee STEM School Designation denotes that a school meets the highest standards of STEM instruction and is a model for schools across the state.

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