FAQs

What is the T-STEM Academy Design Blueprint?

The T-STEM Academy Design Blueprint is intended to serve as a road map for benchmarks, program requirements, and indicators to facilitate individual STEM Academy growth. The Blueprint Rubric Continuum includes four stages of growth including: Developing, Implementing, Mature, and Role Model. Each Academy may differ in their areas of strength as evidenced by their self-evaluation and resulting Annual Action Plan. The Blueprint provides resources such as benchmarks, program requirements, key elements for success, and example artifacts from successful schools allowing campuses to see their status along the rubric continuum.

What can I learn from the T-STEM Blueprint?

In addition to being a roadmap for T-STEM Academies, the Blueprint contains helpful information for all schools that are trying to increase rigor and college readiness. The Blueprint provides guidance on how to develop partnerships with local businesses and colleges in order to increase students' exposure to college and career rigor. The Blueprint also contains guidelines and examples of Projects-Based Learning (PBL) which builds students' problem solving and higher order thinking skills (both of which are necessary for our increasingly competitive global economy).

Are there areas of the Blueprint where the campus should focus on initially?

Benchmarks 1, 2, and 5 are the central best practices for a T-STEM Academy and are what makes an Academy unique from other school models. Learning the continuum for these benchmarks first will help you plan for designation.

Will the campus be expected to be "Role-Model" right away?

No. T-STEM Academies develop the program requirements over time. Campuses should develop a detailed plan for how the campus might proceed to reach the next level. The application will be scored on the applicant’s evident understanding of the continuum, and feasibility of the plan to grow.

What are the benefits of becoming a T-STEM Academy?

Benefits of designation include recognition as an approved T-STEM Academy, membership in the T-STEM Network, invitations to T-STEM Convenings (special events hosted by TEA and Educate Texas), access to professional development and technical assistance, and the strength of the T-STEM model with research-based best practices.

How can I learn more about the T-STEM model?

T-STEM Centers provide high quality STEM professional development and support to STEM Academies and schools interested in improving STEM programs. The 7 T-STEM Centers are located at education service centers or institutions of higher education. T-STEM Centers are able to provide technical support to campuses interested in implementing the T-STEM Academy model. A list of Centers is available here:

How do I apply for T-STEM Designation?

During the Spring semester, TEA will release an online T-STEM Designation application. Any school can apply for designation. Several technical assistance webinars will be conducted at that time to help navigate the Designation process.

Why should we be interested in STEM education?

STEM education is inherently grounded in scientific inquiry which is a fundamental skill needed for problem solving and the development of higher order thinking skills. Also, STEM education is the doorway to economic opportunity. A recent study from Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that traditional STEM jobs have grown faster than job growth overall for decades, and this trend will continue at least through 2018.

Will every campus that applies for designation receive designation?

Not necessarily. Applications are reviewed and scored by multiple reviewers. The designation application must demonstrate an applicant’s ability to implement the T-STEM model with fidelity.

It looks like our campus will not be ready to apply for designation this year. What can we do now to prepare for applying in the future?

There is always a place to start if your campus would like to become a T-STEM Academy. Find your place on the check-list and plan to complete the next actions items in time for your campus to be prepared for following year’s T-STEM Designation process.

If a campus is designated, does that mean they will receive grant funding if it becomes available?

No. The grant process and the designation process are entirely separate processes. Should grant funds become available, all grantees will be required to apply for and become designated.

We want to apply for designation with the intent that, if designated, we will operate as a magnet school. Is this acceptable?

No. T-STEM is not a magnet program. T-STEM Academies should serve all students with a special emphasis on underrepresented populations (economically disadvantaged, at-risk, ELL, and first generation college goers).

What is a MOU, and why does the campus need it?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a meeting of the minds between your campus and a business, institute of higher education (IHE), or T-STEM Center. It comes in the form of a contract which described the terms and services provided and/or exchanged by both parties for a specific period of time. The T-STEM application requires three MOUs: one (1) with an IHE which includes a dual-credit agreement, one (1) with a T-STEM Center, and one (1) with a STEM business partner that provides for student internships. In order to be valid, all MOUs must be signed by both parties and cover the school year for which the applicant wishes to be designated.

What is Project Based Learning?

T-STEM Project Based Learning (PBL) is an inquiry-based instructional approach, in a real-world context, where students generate the pathways and products that meet defined, standards-based outcomes.  PBL allows students to utilize 21st century skills to access and master content. These skills include communication and presentation, organization and time management, research and inquiry, self-assessment and reflections, and group participation and leadership skills.