Oak Ridge Schools First in State to Earn AdvancED STEM District-Wide Certification

December 18, 2017

Oak Ridge High School is pleased to announce its official Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Certification from AdvancED. This accomplishment means that Oak Ridge School district is the first entire district in Tennessee (the second entire district in the world) to be STEM Certified by AdvancED. Oak Ridge High School is also the first comprehensive high school in the state to earn this distinction as an entire school as opposed certifying a single STEM program area.

“This STEM certification validates our longstanding commitment and investment in public education,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said. “The commitment to excellence, which sets Oak Ridge apart, begins every day with public education. It is fitting that our school system has been awarded this certification during our 75th Anniversary year.”

AdvancED implements a research-based framework and criteria for the awareness, continuous improvement, and assessment of the quality, rigor and substance of STEM educational programs in Oak Ridge Schools. The certification process clearly defines the qualities and components vital to creating and sustaining superior student-centered K-12 STEM teaching and learning programs, as well as clear expectations for student outcomes and mastery of 21st century skills. The certification process comprises two days of intensive communication with school stakeholders, classroom observations to see students in action, and an exit presentation of the findings from the review team.

“The Board of Education appreciates the collaborative efforts of all of our staffs and administrators,” Oak Ridge Board of Education Chairman Keys Fillauer added. “Their hard work and dedication made this significant accomplishment happen. Because of the certification, our schools continue to offer outstanding educational opportunities for all of our students.”

The Oak Ridge School district has always been committed to the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in quality education for its students. The district has augmented this focus with an emphasis on preparing students for future STEM occupations and fostering 21st century skills for collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking utilizing interdisciplinary problem-based learning. A critical part of this process has been the pursuit of recognition by and recommendations from AdvancED STEM certification, which will authenticate and build upon our current curricular practices for infusing STEM-based learning in daily instruction.

In the spring of 2016, three Oak Ridge elementary schools earned AdvancED STEM certification: Glenwood, Linden, and Woodland Elementary schools. In the spring of 2017, three more schools in Oak Ridge received this distinction: Willow Brook Elementary, Jefferson Middle, and Robertsville Middle. With the addition of the high school certification, our entire district is now STEM certified. Our desire is to prepare our learners for the careers of tomorrow by perpetuating their enthusiasm for STEM disciplines today. Our focus on STEM demonstrates our continued commitment to ensure every Oak Ridge student is prepared for college, career and life success.

"Oak Ridge's success depends on our skilled workforce and future successes will be dependent on how we train the next generation,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson remarked. “We've been training a highly technical workforce for 75 years and we'll be successful in training the next generation. This announcement solidifies that philosophy."