STEM education is at a crossroads. It has the potential to open doors for all students to develop and apply the knowledge and skills in STEM that are needed for post-secondary success. Yet implementation of STEM largely takes the form of discrete, often disconnected courses in mathematics and science, with minimal attention to engineering and technology and few learning experiences that integrate STEM across disciplines. The result is STEM implementation that lacks coherence, emphasizes secondary discipline-specific courses, and misses a broad swath of students.

Realizing the full potential of STEM requires a systemwide approach:

Creating the PreK-12 STEM Pathway

PreK-12 STEM
Curriculum Units

CTAC and Tracy Unified School District have created 52 integrated STEM units to deepen learning from PreK to 12th grade. With these units, all students are supported in learning science, math, and English language arts, mastering emerging technologies, and practicing twelve types of engineering. Learn more »
CTAC guides district and school partners to create a comprehensive PreK-12 STEM Pathway that is based on seven cornerstones of effective STEM implementation:

  • Develop the PreK-12 vision for STEM education
  • Engage leaders and stakeholders
  • Develop rigorous curricula and assessments
  • Produce relevant learning resources and supports
  • Support highly effective STEM teachers
  • Engage students actively in STEM-relevant learning
  • Conduct actionable program evaluations

Assessing Readiness and Capacity

CTAC’s Assessment of Readiness and Capacity makes it possible to examine school and district capabilities, including:

  • Determine a district’s readiness to pursue a pathway of STEM improvement
  • Analyze the district’s capacity to do so
  • Pinpoint challenges in district capacity that must be addressed to support meaningful STEM improvement

Improving STEM Curricula and Instructional Resources

Taking a pathway approach to STEM learning means building a rich STEM-focused curriculum that is interdisciplinary and planned on a PreK-12 basis. The focus of CTAC’s assistance is to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of STEM standards and expectations
  • Strengthen PreK-12 STEM learning experiences with an emphasis on curricular linkages across subject areas and alignment across grades
  • Incorporate new technologies into the STEM strategy
  • Design a materials management strategy to advance hands-on STEM learning
  • Link interdisciplinary curriculum development with student career awareness and preparation
  • Guide the development and use of formative assessments

Implementing STEM Learning Goals

CTAC builds the capacity of the district and schools to develop and use high quality goals to advance student learning. Sample processes and protocols include:

  • STEM Learning Goals framework
  • Quality rubric for STEM Learning Goals
  • Step-by-step protocols for developing goals
  • Principal prompts to guide STEM-focused conversations
  • Planning guide for challenges and solutions

Developing Professional Capacity

Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, CTAC recognizes the importance of responding to issues of context and culture that can vary by school. We work side-by-side with teachers, school administrators, and district leaders to build the capacities needed to advance STEM learning on a PreK-12 Pathway. CTAC provides customized assistance to key educators:

  • Teachers
    • Providing direct coaching for STEM planning and instruction
    • Customizing learner-centered STEM observation tools
    • Guiding professional collaboration
  • Instructional Coaches
    • Analyzing instructional data for trends and priorities
    • Facilitating instructional coaching
    • Providing critical reviews of STEM curricula and assessments
  • School Leaders/Principals
    • Conducting paired instructional rounds
    • Developing and supporting school STEM plans
    • Crosswalking STEM to school, district, and state priorities
  • District Leaders
    • Planning and implementing strategic initiatives
    • Building district-wide and community support for the PreK-12 STEM Pathway
    • Engaging district/corporate partnerships for STEM

Building Constituencies and Collaboration

CTAC assists the district to build strong constituencies within and across the schools and community to sustain STEM improvements. The focus of this support is to:

  • Engage non-profits, businesses, and other educational institutions in the PreK-12 STEM Pathway
  • Raise STEM career awareness by connecting students to STEM professionals
  • Create a two-way communications network so that all stakeholders share and receive relevant and timely information
  • Establish a partnership with teachers and their associations to support teachers in engaging students in STEM instruction