Curriculum and Instruction Quality in Palm Beach County Schools Validated by STEM Certification

October 2017

Three schools achieved STEM Certification during the 2016-2017 school year, the first year of the certification process.

The schools, Diamond View Elementary, Grassy Waters Elementary, and Poinciana Elementary, received the certification after undergoing a rigorous review process assessing their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) proficiency against four critical benchmarks:

• Focus on STEM Mission
• Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
• Teacher Development
• Strategic Alliances

“For Grassy Waters Elementary, achieving the rank of certified STEM school validates the hard work and dedication we have implemented towards authentic STEM instruction,” said Jennifer Galindo, the school’s Principal. “It lets everyone know that our school is committed to providing quality STEM instruction to all students.”

The STEM Certification process was developed from the STEM Initiative Grant, a four-year collaboration between the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center and the School District. The STEM Initiative was funded by contributions from the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund, the Quantum Foundation, and the Community Foundation of the Palm Beaches.

The Certification process originated from the Palm Beach County STEM Education Council, a collaboration among private, public, and non-profit sectors and led by the School District. Principals from across the District, members of the STEM Curriculum Department, and community partners throughout the County worked to develop the mission, vision, and evaluation rubric that was used to guide the Certification process.

Schools that participated in the STEM Certification submitted proposals of intent to participate in the process, along with a video that highlighted the culture of STEM within their school. The participating schools’ STEM Leadership Teams met with members of the STEM Curriculum Department during after-school STEM Certification Leadership Team Meetings. During these meetings, schools collaborated with the STEM Curriculum Department to develop and organize the content that was ultimately submitted in the application.

An added benefit of the wide-ranging certification process was the chance for schools to examine their school culture and expectations around STEM. They were also able to assess their current STEM education offerings, versus where they would like to be.

“As the process was shared with the faculty and staff, it solidified the idea that STEM was not only prevalent on our campus, but integrated into the classrooms throughout multiple areas,” Galindo said. “We were also able to identify next steps to grow our STEM program and deepen the STEM culture already established at the school.”

For more information about STEM Certification, contact Julia Mate, the District’s K-12 STEM Program Planner / STEM District Coordinator at julia.mate@palmbeachschools.org.

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