Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TI Foundation, Educate Texas and Lancaster ISD to create a "STEM District"

LANCASTER, USA: The Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation, Educate Texas and Lancaster Independent School District (LISD) announced an initiative to systemically change science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels in the district over the next four years. The new "STEM District" model will transform the teaching of these subjects statewide to better prepare Texas students for post-secondary and workforce success.

The TI Foundation will give up to $4.8 million over the next four years to Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, which will work with LISD to implement a plan for building out a "STEM District" by using proven best practices to transform the way the STEM subjects are taught and learned across the entire district.

"The TI Foundation has a long history of investing to improve STEM education in the North Texas region. Working with Educate Texas and LISD, we have the opportunity to launch a comprehensive effort focused on STEM across an entire school district. We've set the groundwork in place to do that, and LISD has the commitment of its entire community. We're proud to support their efforts," said Sam Self, chairman of the TI Foundation board of directors. "We expect the success and outcomes in LISD will serve as a model for replication at other school districts throughout Texas."

"Lancaster ISD (LISD) is on a quest to become the first North Texas school district implementing STEM district-wide, and we've made a commitment to redesign the district by creating a cradle to careers pipeline," said LISD Superintendent Dr. Michael D. McFarland. "The district-wide framework will place an emphasis on Awareness at the elementary level, Exposure and Engagement at the middle school level and will lead to Experience and Articulation at the high school level. We believe that our efforts will be transformative and will ensure that our students leave with more than a diploma – they will also have choices and opportunities."

While the grant has long-term goals of preparing post-secondary students to be STEM-capable and creating a stronger, highly skilled, internationally competitive workforce for North Texas, the goals over the next four years will be focused on ensuring rigor and high quality curricula and college-ready instruction in math, science, technology and design throughout LISD (K-12).

In the near term the grant will also help the district build out STEM talent in the classroom and across the district and partner with local institutions of higher education, business/industry, and economic development to ensure local and regional alignment of assets, efforts, and resources.

"Lancaster ISD is taking an innovative and transformational strategy to scale a rigorous STEM college-ready curricula district-wide and touch the lives of all students, not just a select few," said George Tang, CEO of Educate Texas. "As a result of the collective leadership and vision within the community, Lancaster ISD is positioned to be a thought leader for North Texas and our state."

"The Lancaster community recognizes the importance of preparing its students to be both college-ready and career-prepared," said Lancaster Mayor Marcus E. Knight. "A majority of these students will be first-time college attendees, and it's our hope that students will leave LISD prepared for college and ready to become contributing members of a well-trained, regional STEM workforce."

The TI Foundation and Educate Texas worked closely over the past year to establish a plan to scale STEM changes across an entire district. After reviewing proposals, Educate Texas recommended supporting LISD based on the district's manageable size in terms of number of schools and student population, its vision and plan for addressing core elements including a strong STEM foundation of college-ready teaching and learning, strategic partnerships and community outreach, and a plan for sustainability.

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