STEM Action Center in partnership with the Utah State Board of Education

STEM Schools Designation

Purpose of the program:

  • define the criteria and elements necessary for a school to create a comprehensive STEM learning environment
  • allow schools to engage in discussions with faculty and community partners around STEM education
  • prepare students to be college and career ready
  • serves as an indicator for members of the public who are looking for STEM school experiences in Utah K-12 education
  • opportunity for both reflection and recognition through this program

STEM Schools Designation

Eligibility- applicants must:

  • Be a current public school in the state of Utah that serves the K-12 student population
  • Have been in existence and serving a student population for at least the two previous school years (required so applying schools can provide evidence of implementation of the elements as required in the portfolio).
  • Utilize standards-based instruction aligned to the Utah Core Standards as central to instruction.
  • Submit the Intent to Apply information by the provided deadline.

STEM Schools Designation

How to become a STEM Designated School:

1. Complete a school-wide self-evaluation using the STEM School Designation rubric.

-There are 37 elements within 10 larger "’Dimensions’ that a school uses to evaluates itself

Curriculum: Problem-Solving Rigorous Learning (7 Elements)

Leadership (4 Elements)

Assessment (2 Elements)

Professional Learning (3 Elements)

Teaching (4 Elements)

Student Engagement and Equity (7 Elements)

Community (3 Elements)

Facilities (2 Elements)

Strategic Alliances (3 Elements)

Advancement and Sustainability (2 Elements)

STEM Schools Designation

How to become a STEM Designated School:

1. Complete a school-wide self-evaluation using the STEM School Designation rubric.

2. Write a short (2-4 paragraphs) narrative explaining the score assigned

3. Collect and submit evidence supporting the narrative and score

-Evidence can include samples of student work, lesson plans, meeting minutes,


-The evidence included should ensure that the whole school is represented somewhere in the application

Evidence CAN be used more than once, but should not be used more than three times, and should come from the current school year or two prior school years

4. Submit everything using an online application system, due mid-January


STEM Schools Designation

Once everything is submitted, STEM AC manages the review process:

5. Review teams, comprised of applying schools, schools planning to apply the following school year, STEM AC and USBE staff, and other community members come together to look at the completed applications and determine whether they agree with a score or if it needs to be changed.

-Review teams will NOT increase a score- we rely on you to know your


-If the review team feels the self-assigned score is not supported with the

narrative and evidence, the score may be lowered and feedback will be given on

how to improve the application in the future

6. Depending on the final score, a school can receive one of four designation levels (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) or are recommended for continued work. Schools with points in the platinum or gold ranges also get a site visit by a review committee.

STEM Schools Designation

Designation Levels:

Each school will indicate a level of implementation for each of the 37 elements. Each element can receive a score of up to three (3) points. There are a total of 111 points available. The STEM School Designation will be granted at the following point values:

Designation Level

Point Value

No STEM School Designation (still in development phase of STEM mission and programming)

0 points-69 points

Bronze STEM School Designation

70 points - 80 points

Silver STEM School Designation

81 points - 90 points

Gold STEM School Designation

91 points - 99 points

Platinum STEM School Designation

100 points and above

STEM Schools Designation

How often can a school apply?

  • There will be an annual application cycle which will be available to schools each school year
  • Once awarded, a designation will be active for five school years, after which a school would need to reapply
  • A school that has been awarded designation does NOT need to wait five school years to re-apply for a higher level of designation. If they desire to increase their level of designation within the 5-year period, a shorter, more targeted application process is used.

STEM Schools Designation

What do schools get for receiving the designation?

  • A thorough, research-based, self-evaluation of strengths and areas of improvement with feedback from the STEM community
    • This research was produced and is updated by the University of Chicago’s Outlier Research group and is used nationally to identify schools with an intentional STEM focus.
  • A network of like-minded schools for support, understanding, and ideas
  • A digital STEM School Designation seal for use on promotional materials for the school’s use
  • A banner for interior or exterior use announcing the school's designation and level
  • Identification as a STEM school on the STEM Action Center website for community reference
  • At this time, there is no funding associated with STEM School designation awards
STEM Schools Designation 19-20 Overview - Google Slides