As Texarkana Independent School District moves into a new decade for learning, their focus remains on high-quality learning supporting excellence in STEM education.
“The world and education continues to change at a rapid pace, and it is more important now than ever before that our students are prepared to use knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information and gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions,” said Holly Tucker, TISD Chief Academic Officer.
To that end, TISD STEM teachers will now move forward in earning a nationally recognized STEM Teaching Certification through the National Institute of STEM Education (NISE). This national-level certification uses a competency-based, academic coach-led online learning platform where educators produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates proficiency across 15 STEM teacher actions essential to STEM learning.
“This certification process for our district allows us to transform the STEM experience for teachers and students, strengthen the STEM culture and aid in raising student achievement,” said Tucker. “By tapping into the expertise from Rice University and the NISE STEM Certification, TISD STEM teachers are able to earn a nationally recognized certification that will continue to elevate their teaching to advanced and engaging levels. We are proud to offer them this opportunity.”
The 15 teacher actions selected for the NISE STEM certification are organized into three domains. These domains reflect three big ideas that are essential for effective and transformational STEM teaching. They are Creating an Environment for Learning, Building Scientific Understanding and Engaging Students in Science and Engineering Practices. The average completion time for certification is 5-6 months, but teachers are given up to 10-11 months for completion.
During the current school year, TISD has an estimated 50 teachers and nine administrators going through the certification process. All newly hired STEM teachers for 2021-22 will complete the certification process. Beginning the 2021-22 school year, TISD will be working on certification for campuses serving STEM students.
The Texarkana Independent School District STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) initiative establishes small learning communities in which students explore and investigate real world problems using 21st century tools. The program strives to increase student achievement, while creating a workforce of problem-solvers, innovators and inventors who are self-reliant and able to think critically.
The TISD STEM Program has become a replicable model of excellence for STEM education in which students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to become 21st century leaders who are positioned for post-secondary success in STEM related fields. Their efforts began with the opening of the Martha and Josh Morriss Mathematics & Engineering Elementary School in 2007 followed by the STEM model being extended to Texas Middle School in 2008. To expedite the STEM vision, the Ross Perot STEM Academy @ Texas High School was opened in 2009.
TISD served as the host facility for the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology Field Hearing in 2008 and again in 2011. Their STEM Professional Development program received the American School Board Journal Magna Award in 2009 and was named a District of Distinction by District Administration magazine in March 2016. Additionally, TISD received the STEM Leadership Award in 2014 from the International Association for STEM Leaders.
“TISD has achieved regional and national recognition for our development of a strong foundation for innovative STEM education,” shared Cathy Klopper, Director of STEM Education. “We are committed to building on state and local efforts to improve mathematics and science achievement among all students and focused on increasing the number of students who study and enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. We are also committed to a proactive and strategic approach to empower TISD educators with the tools needed to transform teaching and learning methods for the new century.”