At Bates, we use a variety of methods to ensure that all students have STEM opportunities and engage with our Bantam Engineering Design Process. First and foremost, the utilization of Problem/Project Based Learning within all content areas make an exceptional model for teachers to follow. The depth of learning coupled with real world, tangible examples, is what makes learning at Bates Middle School, not only engaging but rigorous and relevant. Bates’ students not only have opportunities for STEM experiences in our PLTW Engineering program, computer science classes, broad offerings of technology, math, and science classes; teachers across the curriculum routinely offer all of our students opportunities to engage in STEM experiences with real-world connections through problem and project-based learning, research, and inquiry. These projects build students’ STEM literacy and also teaches them the important skills found in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. Our school has implemented a one to one program with each student having a Chromebook. Our autism classes began participating in a therapy dog program in 2018 – 2019. Bates also has an after-school tutoring program that offers bi-weekly tutoring.
Students connect to the greater community through annual events such as Family STEM Nights and our annual Excellence Fair. Additionally, our students participate in outreach through service projects and field experiences. We have partnered with USC-Sumter to bring a physics professor to our site to instruct all of our 8th graders in physics. We also have a partnership with our Career and Technology Center that includes the hosting of a NASA STEM Family Night in the Fall of 2018 and student tours of their facilities. We have an active AVID program at our school to promote college and career readiness. Students are also afforded opportunities to participate in job shadowing in an assortment of STEM-related fields and in activities such as Hour of Code. We hold school-wide STEM days in which every student engages in STEM activities and virtual field trips to increase student access to learning experiences beyond our walls. Each month a Family Take Home STEM activity is posted to our Facebook page. We utilize both Twitter and Facebook to keep our students and parents up to date about school events and happenings.
We have worked hard at Bates Middle School to achieving our STEM Goals. For the goal “Increasing student interest, participation, and achievement in STEM”, we moved from embedded bi-weekly club days and isolated PBL classes in 2017-2018 to a 90 minute A/B block schedule in 2018-2019 that has allowed us to add 41 related arts options and 31 in 2019-2020. Bates Middle School has the student club goal of offering meaningful before and after school STEM learning experiences for our students and increasing overall student participation. We offer several before and after school clubs such as the BioBantams, Science Olympiads, Quiz Bowl, Future Business Leaders of America, Media Club, Men of Purpose, Young Women of the Future, and Junior Honor Society. The BioBantams and Quiz Bowl clubs were added during the 2018-2019 school year.
To better prepare students for post-secondary and workforce readiness we have increased the number of students taking math, ELA, and technology courses for high school credit in the 7th and 8th grades. In 2016-2017, only 8% of our 7th and 8th grade students were enrolled in classes for high school credit, compared to 69% of our 7th and 8th grade students this academic year as shown in this chart. During the 2019-2020 school year, all of our 7th grade students will receive a high school half-credit upon successful completion of our Fundamentals of Computer Science 1 course. They will receive another half-credit in their 8th grade year upon successful completion of Fundamentals of Computer Science 2. 8th grade students may also receive high school credit for successful completion of our Algebra 1 and English 1 courses. Providing students with the opportunity to earn high school credit in STEM courses as a middle school student will allow students the opportunity to take higher level STEM courses as a high school student.
Our School Renewal Plan establishes a measurable goal with established strategies and action plans for student academic success:
Goal: Bates Middle School will provide a challenging STEAM and Project Based Learning curricula with high expectations for all students as measured by increased proficiency levels of 15% by the year 2022 on the following assessments: SCReady; SCPASS. (Baseline data: 2017)
1. Provide research-based instructional practices supporting challenging curricula and high expectations for all students.
2. Utilize all available assessment data to ensure that each student is provided appropriately challenging curricula.
3. Provide resources and opportunities to support students in college and career readiness.
State assessment and the EVASS reporting data indicates that our African American male population is an underrepresented group at our school in terms of academic success. In the 2019-2020 school year, 43% of our Algebra 1 students are African American males. This is an increase from 21% for the 2018-2019 school year. Students in this course are supported through our Gear Up Program. This program also provided an Algebra 1 Camp in July 2019 to give students a head-start on the academic year. To further provide support we have initiated both professional development for our teachers to increase rigor (a problem indicated by the observer at our STEM Accreditation pre-visit) and school-wide initiatives to bring instructional programs to our school to provide more in-depth programs for our students in literacy and mathematics. In the 2018-2019 school year, Bates Middle School has organized a Greek Academic Society, “Alpha Delta Beta.” The purpose of the organization is to promote and recognize academic excellence in young male students. The criteria for joining the organization are based on grades and behavior in class. We work to create an environment where our young men are proud of their good grades that they earn in class, as well as being a model student. This is in addition to our Men of Purpose club. The Bates Men of Purpose is a school club that meets on one Saturday per month and engages in field studies throughout the year. The club focuses on academics and social skills emphasizing communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. These clubs help us to achieve our STEM goal of increasing student interest, participation, and achievement in STEM in this under-represented population.
Our Special Education population is another under-represented group identified in terms of academic success but is not mutually exclusive from the Black/African American Male population. Our self-contained and resource students attend science, social studies and electives classes, including our Project Lead the Way courses, with the general education population. Math and ELA are based on individual student needs. These students engage in STEM learning in both their general education and special education classes. Our autism classes are engaged in STEM learning through problem based class activities and our therapy dog program.
To further address outreach to groups often underrepresented in STEM program areas, we established the Women in STEM committee. Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce ( NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2018). The goal of this committee is to establish women role models and mentors for our students. A Women in STEM conference will be held on April 8, 2020, for Women in STEM fields to share their experience Rising 7th and 8th graders are encouraged to attend the free district All-Girls STEM Mechatronics Summer Camp each summer.
Our school STEM Team, our faculty, and our STEM Advisory Board reflect several times per year on how to maintain and extend our strengths. This has led to the creation of a VEX Robotic Competition Club being implemented this school year. We have also formed a new partnership with Central Carolina Technical College to ensure effective STEM instruction for all of our students
A weakness that we have identified is ensuring that all classes are providing rigorous STEM instruction and experiences. We engaged in a practice STEM Accreditation visit and the Pre-visit. At both visits, the observers indicated that the work displayed in the hallways and classes were not meeting the standard of rigor. To address this we obtained the services of AdvancED to provide a professional development session: “Instructional and Questioning Strategies to Increase Rigor for Students”. August 2019: AdvancED trainers presented the professional development session: “Instructional and Questioning Strategies to Increase Rigor for Students” to provide teachers with instructional strategies and techniques to increase rigor in their classrooms. October 2019: The focus will be on facilitated PLC or Department Meetings with a Culminating Staff Meeting (analysis of strategies implemented since August/feedback). This focus on rigor will be on-going throughout the school year. By doing this, we hope to Increase scores on assessments in STEM fields (SCPASS for 6th grade science and SCReady for math) in our under-represented populations.