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Grant to Help Texas School System Become a 'STEM District'

The Lancaster Independent School District, in north Texas, is getting assistance to the tune of up to $4.8 million to "systematically change" the delivery of STEM education, with the larger goal of serving as a model to be replicated elsewhere in the Lone Star State according to a press release issued today.

The four-year grant from the Texas Instruments Foundation aims to help the school system transform into a "STEM District" by using best practices to rethink how the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are taught and learned in the district. The funding will go to Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of the Communities Foundation of Texas, which will work with the school district.

"We've made a commitment to redesign the district by creating a cradle-to-careers pipeline," district Superintendent Michael McFarland said in the press release. "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."

In addition to focusing on improved STEM curricula and instruction, the private funding will help the Lancaster school district forge partnerships with local institutions of higher education, business, and economic development to ensure local and regional alignment.

The announcement calls to mind a story I wrote last year about the emergence of a new generation of STEM-focused schools around the country. In fact, in a follow-up webinar hosted by edweek.org, one of the guests was the principal of a STEM school in Texas.

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