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Lancaster ISD to "Create a STEM District"

Texas Instruments Foundation, Educate Texas and Lancaster ISD partner to create a "STEM District." Districtwide change expected to lead to statewide STEM education model.

(Lancaster, Texas – March 21, 2012) 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.
 
“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, chief operating officer 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. 
 
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); and
  • 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.
“This is a unique and exceptional opportunity for advancing our shared vision of enabling all students to gain the foundational skills, knowledge and experience required for postsecondary success. Increasing the overall education attainment rates for Lancaster students will benefit the community and our city, and more importantly, be a demonstration of what can be accomplished when people collaborate and align against a common vision,” said Tang.
 
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About Educate Texas
Launched in 2004 as Texas High School Project, Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, is dedicated to ensuring Texas students have the guidance and resources needed to graduate high school ready for college and career success. We bring together key organizations committed to improving education in Texas, working with school districts, community colleges, technical schools and regional universities to implement programs and practices promoting postsecondary readiness, access and success for all students. Educate Texas’ public-private partners include: the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Governor's Office, Texas Legislature, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, and Greater Texas Foundation. For more information, please visit: www.EdTx.org.
 
About Lancaster ISD
The mission of LISD is to educate every student with the knowledge, skills, and principles to succeed and contribute in a competitive and technologically advancing world by providing rigorous and engaging learning opportunities that promote diversity; create an environment of integrity and respect; and establish a commitment to continued improvement in partnership with families and community. This school district is comprised of 10 campuses: seven elementary, one sixth grade center, one middle, one secondary, 6, 172 students, 79 percent of the student population is economically disadvantaged and 96 percent of the students are Hispanic/African American. More information can be found at http://www.LancasterISD.org.
 
About the Texas Instruments Foundation
The Texas Instruments Foundation, founded in 1964, is a non-profit organization providing philanthropic support for educational and charitable purposes primarily in the communities where Texas Instruments operates. Committed to supporting educational excellence, the foundation works to create measurable, replicable programs and initiatives. In school districts across North Texas, TI and the TI Foundation have supported and helped implement successful programs such as the Advanced Placement Incentive Program (Dallas and Mesquite ISDs), Laying The Foundation (Dallas, Garland and Richardson ISDs), TexPrep, and the Innovation in STEM Teaching Awards (Dallas, Plano and Richardson ISDs). The focus is on providing knowledge, skills and programs to improve STEM education and increase the percentage of high school graduates who are math and science capable. More information can be found at http://www.ti.com/education.
 
For further information, contact:
Gene Acuña, Educate Texas/Communities Foundation of Texas
512-560-5125
 
Gail Chandler, Texas Instruments
214-793-3021
g-chandler1@ti.com
 
Sonya Cole-Hamilton, Lancaster ISD
972-218-1433
sonyahamilton@lancasterisd.org