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Reimagining Career and College Readiness: STEM, Rigor, and Equity in a Comprehensive High School

The UW Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (ISME) has partnered with Bellevue School District, the College Board, The Washington STEM Center and other local organizations in a successful proposal to the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The project, Reimagining Career and College Readiness: STEM, Rigor, and Equity in a Comprehensive High School, has received $4.1 million in i3 funding and over $900k in matching funds and in-kind support from private organizations.

The project’s overall aim is to develop a model of STEM-rich, problem-based curriculum within the comprehensive high school.  Key elements of the model include rigorous, problem-based curricula, STEM industry mentorship for teachers and students, and specific supports for students with disabilities and English language learners. The ISME’s contributions to the project, led by Associated Director Andrew Shouse, will include both program development and empirical research.  The Institute will work with BSD teachers and administrators to design and develop problem-based curriculum, video cases for teacher professional development, and a mentoring system to engage STEM industry professionals with teachers and students. The Institute’s research efforts will focus on iterative refinement of curriculum materials and analysis of mentoring relationships. The latter years of the five-year project will shift focus towards strategies for dissemination of practices and resources throughout the district and beyond.

This project grew out of internal discussions among Sammamish High School teachers and administrators who were interested in finding new ways to reach all students and to retain students in light of declining enrollments. Working through the CoE’s Ackerley Network, of which Sammamish High School is a member, principal Tom Duenwald and Superintendent Amalia Cudiero reached out to CoE’s Institute for Science and Mathematics Education.  Institute staff joined the school’s deliberations and collaborated with the K-12 partners to develop the initial proposal.

In August the project team was notified that they were finalists and tasked with the additional challenge of securing a 20% match by early September and an energetic dash to secure funds and in-kind contributions ensued. The Washington STEM Center, a recently established 501c3 organization funded primarily by the technology industry and associated philanthropies, provided the lion’s share of the match. STEM Center staff will roll up their sleeves to join in the implementation, analysis, and communication activities associated with the project.  Additional cash and in-kind contributions came from The College Board, The Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) at the University of Oregon, The Boeing Company, The George Lucas Educational Foundation, The Bellevue Schools Foundation, Sammamish Totems Enrichment Programs Supporters and Google.

Of 1700 proposals to the i3 competition only 49 succeeded. Reimagining Career and College Readiness is the only i3 award in Washington, however UW’s John Bransford and Nancy Vye are partners with an arts education i3 award in collaboration with Arts for Learning and the Beaverton, Oregon Schools. 

Click here to learn more about the UW Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (ISME).

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