Non-profits partner with Texas district on comprehensive STEM initiative

The Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation, Educate Texas and Lancaster Independent School District (LISD) announced today 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.

"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.

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.

Key aspects of the Lancaster ISD proposal include:

  • Leveraging existing Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) to provide structure and time required for teachers to learn, absorb, and apply the STEM programmatic practices
  • Creating industry-informed STEM-articulated pathways with opportunities for industry certification/credentials (Communications, Health Sciences, Information Software System Design, and Engineering)
  • Implementing a College and Career Ready, contextually-based rigorous learning curriculum that will increase opportunities for accelerated learning options (i.e., advanced placement, dual credit, articulated credit)
  • Establishing a robust partnership system to engage higher education, industry, government, community and external support in the creation of STEM district and opportunities for students.