Okatie Elementary School strongly believes all students should be afforded the opportunity to learn through an integrated STEM curriculum. Our philosophy is that our entire student population be involved in STEM learning, including students from underrepresented groups. Our diverse school serves 574 students, 53% male and 47% female. Concerning ethnicity, 60% classify as white, 18% are Hispanic or Latino, 14% are African American, 4% identify as multi-racial, and 3% are Asian.
Based on our standardized test data, Okatie Elementary School students are performing above the national norm. The Math MAP data reveals strengths in Numbers and Operations in multiple grade levels. However, a general weakness overall would be in Measurement a nd Data. Standardized test scores, field studies, and performance-based activities indicate that students were most successful working cooperatively. We will continue to work with collaboration in a cooperative group setting across the grade levels. All staff members participated by independently completing the AdvancEd STEM Certification Self-Assessment. Upon completion, staff members met, disaggregated, and discussed the survey responses. The survey results indicated the use of technology resources and the collaborative planning of integrated STEM learning experiences as areas of strength. The Connect2Learn program increases technology-based learning and broadens the digital learning environment beyond the classroom. There will be a more concentrated effort to focus the use of technology toward STEM-based learning experiences that incorporate critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Teachers will continue to collaborate in the creation of integrated STEM learning experiences during weekly common grade-level planning. In order to sustain and continue growing our STEM learners, we will implement a vertical planning session in January to support our current grade-level professional learning communities.
While there are STEM outreach plans in place (outlined in student agenda book, School Renewal Plan, and through monthly committee work), it lacks specific measurable goals designed to increase enrollment, retention, and support of students. Measurable goals will be identified to make decisions about increasing enrollment in extracurricular STEM-related opportunities in all underrepresented groups. Palmetto Gold/Gold for Achievement and Closing the Gap was earned, but we cannot directly correlate those results to our STEM initiatives. Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, data will be collected for documentation through participant surveys, attendance logs, and interest inventories. Our goal is to increase participation in outreach opportunities by ten percent. Data analysis will be used to determine a more strategic and varied outreach plan that meets the needs and interests of our underrepresented population.
Age-appropriate mentorships are established in some grade levels across the school population. Our goal is to expand these relationships and partnerships to provide a wider range of mentors across the school. Currently, choices are limited for apprenticeships and internships outside the school day due to the age of our students and transportation needs. Additional STEM-related activities have been planned for students (enrolled in the OWL program) and community members to work collaboratively, providing opportunities for participation after the school day. The Career Fair, held in October, will expose students to a variety of science, technology, engineering, and math professions. Additional data will be gathered from students and community members to evaluate the overall effectiveness of these learning opportunities.
The District STEM Learning Profile will be our map to effective practices. Working closely with the district office staff and local STEM certified schools, we will continue to provide professional development with a STEM-specific focus on activities, tasks, and assessments. Teachers will attend STEM-related professional development conferences including the SDE Professional Learning for Science and Math, the SC EdTech conference, Technology Cohort, and Discovery Ed Training Cohort. Our goal is strengthening and increasing partnerships with business and industry partners to augment the STEM focus.