KMHS: A STEM Certified School

KMHS: A STEM Certified School

Morgan Alwardt, Sports Editor

The Kennesaw Mountain High School Magnet Program recently received the AdvancED STEM Certification on January 31, 2017. The KMHS STEM Committee, including Dr. Ingle, Dr. Trachtenbroit, Mrs. LaRoy, Mr. Stark, Mrs. Bultman, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Kienel, Ms. Kline, and Mrs. Wood, started the process of obtaining the AdvancED Certification in October 2016. AdvancED is a very prestigious STEM certification that is difficult to earn.

AdvancED’s mission statement is to lead and empower the education community to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. They describe themselves as “the largest community of education professionals in the world. We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of Pre-K-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential.”

The evaluators were on campus for two days and were able to visit any magnet or AP class for at least 20 minutes. At the end of the two days, the evaluators gave Dr. Ingle a 27-page report detailing the 11 standards that the Magnet Program was evaluated on. Of the 11 standards, the evaluators gave the Magnet Program a “Powerful Practice” rating on three of them, which is extremely rare.

The 11 standards are further divided into three subcategories: STEM learners, STEM educators, and STEM experiences.

The requirements for STEM learners are to have the STEM program support new student participation with community outreach, have students work both with other students and independently to find unique solutions to complex problems, empower students to direct their own STEM experiences, have students utilize technology to conduct research and show critical thinking and collaboration skills, and to give students the opportunity to show what they have learned with performance assessments and explanations of their thinking process.

The requirements for STEM educators are to include real world applications in problem-based curriculum, collaborate among other STEM educators to improve integrated learning experiences, help demonstrate a student’s STEM abilities for post-college and workforce preparedness, and to participate in STEM-specific learning programs.

The requirements for STEM experiences are to have community/business or industry partners and families provide support and be engaged in the STEM program, and also ensures that students support their STEM learning through adult-world experiences.

AdvancED says that their STEM Certification “provides a proven, research-based framework and criteria from which to assess and validate the quality, rigor and substance of STEM educational programs. Through this certification protocol, institutions and programs build awareness, increase expectations and demonstrate a commitment and ability to deliver high-quality STEM education.” An AdvancED STEM Certification is a “mark of STEM distinction and excellence for those institutions that are granted the certification” and gives international STEM recognition to Kennesaw Mountain High School.