Schools Earn STEM, STEAM Certifications from Georgia Department of Education

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

The Georgia Department of Education has awarded Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics certification to M.A. Jones Elementary School in Atlanta Public Schools, STEM recertification to Kennesaw Mountain High School in Cobb County and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology in Rockdale County, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math certification to Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta Public Schools. State School Superintendent Richard Woods presented the certifications in ceremonies at the respective schools this month.

“Our students need a solid foundation of science, technology, engineering and math as they enter the 21st-century economy,” Superintendent Woods said. “Our STEM certification program is all about recognizing the schools that are taking up that task and doing an exceptional job providing those opportunities for students. Each of these schools is doing a fantastic job equipping students with STEM skills and experiences in a creative, project-based environment that personalizes student learning. In addition, Drew Charter is going one step farther and integrating the fine arts with a top-notch STEM program. This is great news for students, who are receiving a rich, relevant education that will prepare them for the future.” 

M.A. Jones Elementary is the first school in APS to earn STEM certification from the GaDOE. The school encourages students to move beyond just learning about STEM subjects and encourages them to be scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Students at M.A. Jones use computer-aided design programs such as Inventor to design and create engineering products. The school has connected with an urban farm where students learn the importance of growing and eating nutritious foods. Georgia State University uses the school as a training ground for STEM teachers.

To earn STEM certification, schools must submit an application showing that they meet specific criteria, including evidence of teacher collaboration, business and industry partnerships, high levels of math and science instruction, and an integrated, project-based STEM curriculum. A team from the Georgia Department of Education visits each school to observe its program.

Once a school has been STEM-certified by the GaDOE, they must re-certify every five years. Kennesaw Mountain High School, one of just ten STEM-certified high schools in Georgia, was recertified on April 27. Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, the first Georgia high school to receive STEM certification, was also recertified this month. 

Kennesaw Mountain’s STEM program is characterized by a freshman class that is engaged in integrated English Language Arts and business coursework. Students must find their own business/industry mentor for their freshman project. All students in the STEM program conduct scientific research during their tenure with the school and are expected to articulate the results of that research orally and in writing.

Rockdale Magnet provides a dynamic learning environment designed for high-achieving students with interest and aptitude in math, science, and technology. Students complete three years of scientific research and enter it in a variety of national and international STEM competitions. They are also required to complete a scientific senior capstone experience, and most Rockdale Magnet students participate in an intense internship with business partners, allowing them to explore career options in STEM-related fields.