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Harrison Hill, USA TODAY
Bartlesville Public Schools has been named one of the top school districts in the nation for its outstanding STEM education program for a second consecutive year.
It is one of 17 school districts nationwide and the only one in Oklahoma to achieve the status as a Project Lead The Way Distinguished District.
“This is something obviously that our district is really proud of, and it’s something our community can be really proud of,” said BPS Superintendent Chuck McCauley. “In today’s times when parents really have the opportunity to have some choices on where they want to put their kids in school, we really think this sets us apart.”
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is an innovative hands-on curriculum used by school systems nationwide to broaden student access to science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities. It focuses on problem-solving and critical thinking as well as helping students apply what they have learned to real-life problems.
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Research has shown that STEM learning better prepares young people for academic success and to meet professional requirements that are increasingly focused on technology.
BPS started implementing the PLTW curriculum at the middle school level a few years ago, expanded it to the high school and has now completed implementation at all six of Bartlesville’s elementary schools, McCauley said.
“Phillips 66 made a $1.7 million donation several years ago that helped us renovate some innovation labs at our secondary schools, which is right around the time we were doing some reconfiguration on some bond projects,” he said. “We just used that to kick-start us into offering this Project Lead the Way curriculum.”
Now, BPS has computer science and engineering pathways for all students from kindergarten to the 12th grade.
All six of the district’s elementary schools, both of its middle schools and its high school each earned Distinguished School status for 2020-21.
“Our elementary implementation is really comprehensive. We’re talking elective classes at our middle schools and high school,” McCauley said. “But at the elementary level, we’re talking about all teachers are trained to provide this opportunity for our kids so it’s quite an effort.”
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Only 20 other elementary schools in the state have received Distinguished School recognition for 2020-21.
This was the fourth consecutive year that both Central and Madison middle schools were named Distinguished Schools. There are no other middle schools in the state that received that recognition for 2020-21.
It is the third year in a row that Bartlesville High School’s computer science program earned Distinguished School status. The high school engineering programs at BHS and Tri County Tech also received that recognition again this year.
Through PLTW, students develop in-demand knowledge and skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take.
“It is a great honor to recognize Bartlesville Public Schools for their commitment to providing students with an excellent educational experience,” said Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO. “They should be very proud of their work to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to be career-ready and successful on any career path they choose.”
Bartlesville High School was awarded the national Advanced Placement Computer Science Female Diversity Award by the College Board for its efforts to close the gender gap in computer sciences.
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