Skip to main content

Benchmark 1: School Design

Purpose of School Design

The T-STEM academy must provide a STEM focused program serving students in grades 6-12 or grades 9-12 with an active relationship with the feeder middle school(s).

Design Elements

All T-STEM academies must implement and meet the following requirements:

  1. The T-STEM academy location shall be:
    1. On a college or university campus, or
    2. In a high school—as a standalone high school campus or in a smaller learning community within a larger high school, or
    3. At a central location, such as a STEM or CTE center where students are enrolled in their home campus 
  2. T-STEM academy staff shall include:
    1. A T-STEM building level leader with authority to make scheduling, hiring, and budget decisions
    2. Qualified T-STEM academy teachers who work directly with the T-STEM students, which may include adjunct high school faculty capable of teaching college-level courses
    3. Counseling staff who support T-STEM students, including activities such as: coordinating with Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) for registration and monitoring of students’ high school and college transcripts and monitoring high school and college courses to ensure all requirements are met
  3. The T-STEM shall establish a leadership team that includes high-level personnel with decision-making authority who meet regularly and report to each organization. Regularly scheduled meetings must address the following topics:
    1. Identification of members and the role each member will play in the design, governance, operations, accountability, curriculum development, professional development, outreach, sustainability, and continuous monitoring and improvement of T-STEM
    2. Assumption of shared responsibility (between the school district, industry partners, and the IHE) for meeting annual outcomes-based measures and providing annual reports to their district and IHE boards, as well as to the public
    3. Monitoring of progress on meeting the T-STEM Blueprint, including reviewing data to ensure the T-STEM is on-track to meet outcomes-based measures
    4. Guidance for mid-course corrections as needed
    5. Identification and implementation of sustainability structures to address and minimize the challenges of staff turnover and potential fluctuations in funding
  4. The leadership team shall include and meet regularly—in person and/or virtually—with the leaders from the district, IHE, and business/industry who have decision-making authority:

    District leaders (may include):

    1. Superintendent
    2. Assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, or equivalent position
    3. T-STEM principal or director
    4. CTE Director
    5. Department chairs
    6. School counselors
    7. Business and industry partners

    IHE leaders (may include):

    1. College or university president
    2. Provost
    3. Department Chairs for core academic disciplines
    4. T-STEM liaison

    Business/Industry (may include):

    1. CEO/President
    2. Education/community outreach specialist
  5. Implementation of an annual professional development plan for teachers and staff using research-based instructional strategies that focus on rigor, build college and career readiness, are based on needs assessment of student data, and includes both high school and dual credit teacher Professional development may include, but is not limited to:
    1. A mentoring and induction program for newly hired staff, providing them with the instructional and interpersonal skills and capacities needed for success in a T-STEM
    2. An externship program to expose teachers, counselors, and/or administrators to STEM content and careers
    3. Opportunities for teachers to collaborate, plan, and engage in relevant professional development
  6. Provision of opportunities for T-STEM teachers to receive extensive training and support through regularly scheduled formative peer observations and collaboration opportunities with feeder pattern focus groups, industry, and IHE partners
  7. Offering of inclusive STEM activities both inside and outside the classroom for all students
  8. The T-STEM academy students shall be cohorted into core classes to the extent possible; this does not exclude non-T-STEM students from enrolling in the same class
  9. The T-STEM academy shall be offered at no cost to students


  1. All products shall be published on the T-STEM academy website and be made available to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) upon request.
  2. All products shall be maintained in accordance with local retention policy.


  1. Annual training and professional development calendar and plan for teachers
  2. Mentor/induction program plans
  3. T-STEM leadership meetings and agenda notes


STEM Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

This tool provides an overview of common STEM leadership roles and examples of responsibilities related to development and implementation.

STEM Sustainability Tool

The STEM Sustainability Assessment Tool can assist a school and/or district in identifying appropriate sustainability component assets and/or needs.

STEM Needs Assessment

This tool is designed to help a district or campus identify needs and gaps that exists within local STEM programming that potentially could prevent the program from meeting its desired goals.

STEM Curricular Planning and Implementation Reflection for Teachers

The provided questions and reflection template can be used to initiate self-reflection and/or reflective conversations among collaborators in regard to planning processes, instruction during STEM activities, assessments including performance based, and the resulting student learning outcomes.

Integration Strategies

This tool provides an overview, definitions, and examples of STEM integration types and strategies.

49 KB

Integration Planning and Graphic Organizer

Complete the diagram by identifying the TEKS-aligned content and STEM fluency skills that are connected to the STEM lesson, unit, or project.

STEM Walkthrough Tool

This qualitative tool provides guidance for quick feedback to an instructor during an observation when STEM activities are being implemented in the classroom.

Teacher Survey

These sample statements can be used to create customized surveys at the local level to assess students’ interest in STEM.

2020 Summit: Building & Sustaining the CCR School Model, panel discussion

Asession from the 2020 CCRSM Leadership Summit. In this session mentor leaders from various campuses share lessons learned on building and sustaining a successful CCR School Models campus.

2020 Summit: School Design and Sustainability

A session from the 2020 CCRSM Leadership Summit. Seguin ECHS shares how it re-examined its school design and changed it to become more sustainable.