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STEM School Administrators and STEM School Policy
STEM School Administrators/School Policy

Starting a new STEM program, especially one that integrates a variety of subjects and innovative teaching strategies can be an adventure! The most effective and sustained STEM programs begin with quality leadership and that leadership begins with YOU!  A supportive Administrator sets the stage for all of the exciting facets of STEM Program Development.  The path towards successful STEM implementation begins with identifying a STEM philosophy, which includes your mission and vision and will define and drive your program throughout its development.   Through strategic planning and shared decision-making a STEM school leader can help his/her staff create an exciting, rigorous program that meets the needs of the students, parents and community.  The STEM Immersion Guide, STEM Implementation Guides and this Proposed STEM Program Development Model can help plan your journey….You will notice the inter-connectedness of the development model.  Like the acronym of STEM itself, the best programs are the combination of separate topics "integrated” into one. Great teaching and deep meaningful learning begin with exceptional leadership.

Additional STEM Program Model suggestions: 

Common elements of inclusive STEM Program Models have been identified through research at Outlier Research & Evaluation at CEMSE, University of Chicago. This work illustrates what STEM schools are, and lays the groundwork for understanding how STEM schools work to achieve their goals.

What characteristics are necessary for LEADERS as they move across the levels of STEM Immersion?  Visit this link that describes the roles of the district/site administrator as the change agent leading the series of strategic initiatives needed to become a STEM-based school/program. See:

What characteristics are necessary for effective EVALUATION of STEM Immersion programs?  This link describes the processes used to gather qualitative and quantitative data elements and observations necessary to evaluate effective STEM schools/programs. See:

What characteristics are necessary for effective BUDGETING of STEM Immersion Programs?  This link describes the process of identifying costs related to personnel, facilities, equipment and supplies in STEM schools/programs. See:

Additional STEM Program Models
have been developed by Outlier Research & Evaluation at CEMSE, University of Chicago to assist administrators in understanding the different components necessary for an effective STEM school. Outlier Research & Evaluation at the University of Chicago was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the landscape of inclusive STEM high schools across the United States. The final study findings were released in March 2015. Questions addressed are: What defines a STEM school? What do STEM schools do? How do STEM schools work? Where is the STEM in S.T.E.M.? The website has an interactive grid of the common components of the STEM schools studied.  To visit the comprehensive site with all tools, go here:

See the graphic on STEM School Components here:

Watch the video here:  

The 8 Elements of inclusive STEM high schools: We identified 8 Elements common to STEM schools across the country. You can read about the Elements that make up STEM schools and how STEM schools enact these here:


The STEM School Infographic: The Elements are made up of components that represent the core of what STEM schools do every day to accomplish their goals. Explore all 78 components in our updated infographic here.

Watch the video here:


Where is the S.T.E.M. in STEM? In our work with STEM school leaders and stakeholders, it has become clear that they often define "STEM" as more than science, technology, engineering, and math. Read about how these disciplines fit into the S3 framework here.   


Outlier Research & Evaluation also provides advice and evaluation services for schools and districts.  For further information contact: (


Additional Print resources: 


Are you Preparing to Support STEM Educators?  This SmartBrief (download) is one in a series to bring research to practice. STEM Smartbriefs are funded by the National Science Foundation, grant # 0822241, and prepared by the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) at the Education Development Center, Inc.



Are you looking for Examples for STEM Leadership Development in Arizona? This paper authored by Dr. Jo Anne Vasquez, Helios Education Foundation contains specific programming examples:   See: Developing STEM Site-Based Teacher and Administrator Leadership


Additional Resources forthcoming include:

Research and best practices of  effective STEM implementation found in STEM Schools in Arizona including; What a good STEM lesson/unit looks like, Assessment components of STEM lessons, How to effectively evaluate a STEM lesson and/or programs.


Highlight on AZ Administrators making the shift to STEM Education

Superintendent Bryan Bullington, Bagdad Unified School District, Bagdad, Arizona

When asked to describe two words that best describe the shift in culture when starting a district wide STEM Implementation Plan, Mr. Bullington stated, "You need to foster Creativity and Accountability; yet trust that your teachers will do the job you’ve hired them for.  It comes down to how you interact with people by being positive, having a clear vision and being able to articulate it.   Make sure you can COMPLETE the vision. You need to provide a sense of empowerment by having conversations with your staff, parents and the community and then collectively coming up with your vision.  It is not a "top-down” approach.”

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