NEWS RELEASES 2015-16 :: JUNE 6, 2016


The North Carolina State Board of Education recently recognized seven public schools for exemplary leadership and instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. These schools are the third set of schools to be recognized under the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's (NCDPI) STEM Recognition Program.

State Superintendent June Atkinson commended the schools for attaining STEM Schools of Distinction recognition. "Focusing on STEM provides students with the knowledge and applied learning experiences that will help ensure they graduate ready for college, careers and life. STEM fields provide the greatest opportunities for students, and I am glad we are preparing them to take advantage of these careers."

The STEM Recognition Program was developed by NCDPI in partnership with representatives from schools, business and industry, and postsecondary institutions as a way to identify and recognize exemplary STEM schools and STEM programs. The application process rubric is built around NCDPI's STEM Attributes, which describe characteristics of a high quality STEM school.

Schools were recognized as meeting the Prepared or Model Level of Achievement, or as a Model Future Ready STEM School of Achievement. Regardless of the status, schools exemplify outstanding leadership and learning, which empower keen creative thinking, reasoning and teamwork – the underpinnings of 21st century skills. Schools recognized under the Model Level of Achievement go even further by systemically interweaving science, technology, engineering and mathematics into complementary coursework in the Arts, Career and Technical Education, English language arts, Healthful Living and World History.

Two benchmark firsts highlighted this year's recognition program. The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics was recognized as the state's first Model Future Ready STEM School of Achievement. To achieve this, the school had to have a graduation rate of 90 percent or higher or a College Readiness/ACT with 90 percent of students having a composite score at 17 or above. The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics had a 99 percent graduation rate and an average ACT composite score of 31.6.

Cabarrus County was the first county to be recognized with a nucleus of neighborhood model STEM Schools of Distinction K-12 that are vertically aligned. The schools forming this nucleus are Coltrane Webb STEM Elementary School, Patriots STEM Elementary School, Central Cabarrus High School STEM Magnet Program and JN Fries Middle School (which was identified in a previous year).

STEM Schools of Distinction for the 2015-16 school year are:

  • Central Cabarrus High School STEM Magnet Program, Cabarrus County Schools, Model Level of Achievement;
  • Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School, Cabarrus County Schools, Model Level of Achievement;
  • Davie County High School STEM Center, Davie County Schools, Prepared Level of Achievement;
  • Nesbitt Discovery Academy, Buncombe County Schools, Prepared Level of Achievement;
  • North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham County, Model Future Ready School of Achievement;
  • Patriots STEM Elementary School, Cabarrus County Schools, Model Level of Achievement; and
  • JW York Elementary School, Wake County Public Schools, Prepared Level of Achievement.

Overall, 17 applications were submitted for possible recognition. Schools pursuing recognition underwent a rigorous application process that required:

  • detailed responses and evidence addressing each of the 11 attributes of quality STEM education and over 40 key elements that define the quality characteristics rooted within the attributes;
  • a self-assessment of the school aligning to the Attribute Implementation rubric; and
  • identification of their best practice of educational excellence.

To receive this honor, schools designated as STEM Schools of Distinction are rooted in a culture where creativity and inquiry exists between and among students, teachers, administrators and community members with an emphasis on engaging students in a way of innovation and problem solving to seek solutions, and collaborative teamwork. Additionally, schools have established a network of community relationships and strategies that foster purposeful connections between student studies and the world outside their classroom. In all, schools approach education with intentionality to engage and inspire students through learning experiences that are real, relevant and balanced whereby all content areas are equally responsive to cultivating growth and success.

In addition to being honored by the State Board of Education, the schools will be recognized on the Department's STEM web page and the NCSTEM Center Portal. Schools also will receive a specially designed STEM School of Distinction banner provided by NC Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center.

For more information on the NCDPI STEM Recognition Program, please visit NCDPI's STEM web page.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.