Where To Start? Inside One California District’s Approach To Redesign STEM Education

School is out for summer. But in Tracy, Calif., teachers have been hard at work.

Inside the staff development training room at the Tracy Unified School District, a group of about 25 teachers and curriculum specialists gathered this summer to overhaul the district’s approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The plan is to go from an approach in which most subjects are taught separately to one in which lessons integrate state standards in math, science, computer science and English language arts.

“We just can’t be siloed anymore,” said Deborah Coker, a teacher on special assignment at Tracy Unified. “There’s not enough time in the day to teach everything separately.”

Across California, schools and districts are working to implement the Next Generation Science Standards that were adopted in 2013 and to prepare students for the new California Science Test, which was administered for the first time this year. Tracy Unified’s new STEM curriculum is rooted in the new science standards, which emphasize hands-on projects and integrate several scientific disciplines. Each STEM unit will feature science and engineering projects that involve elements such as writing, public presentations, math and computer science.

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