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Key changes to STEM & STEAM school designation under updated Ohio law

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Every year, OSLN partners with the Ohio Department of Education and the state STEM Committee to facilitate the STEM and STEAM school designation process. In July 2021, the law governing STEM designation (Ohio Revised Code 3326), was updated. That legislative update changed key parts of the STEM designation process.

Read on to find out what might be different for your school and the designation timeline this year. Our first deadline is close: Notice of intent to apply is due December 15.

Changes for all schools

In the law, Ohio Revised Code 3326.03 outlines the required contents for proposals for designation and which schools can seek STEM designation. This law was modified, effective September 30, 2021, to include the following changes:

  • Schools must submit an amended proposal to offer additional grade levels beyond those for which the school was originally designated. Upon approval of the amended proposal by the STEM committee, those grades may be offered by the school.
  • Designated schools will maintain designation for a period of five years (unless the STEM committee revokes its designation). After five years, schools need to reapply for designation. OSLN is collaborating with the Ohio Department of Education to create the re-designation process for schools designated prior to September 30, 2021. More information will come about the re-designation process.
  • Schools that do not meet the criteria for re-designation will have one year to make modifications and re-apply. The intent of this law is to help maintain the integrity and high-quality of the STEM designation process – it is not meant to be punitive. OSLN and Ohio Department of Education will provide support to schools that require corrective action.

Note for current STEM school principals: Our monthly statewide call with all STEM designated schools is one key resource to help you stay informed about this process. Please reach out if our invitations to this meeting are not reaching you.

Expanded opportunities for career-tech/vocational programs

Ohio Revised Code Section 3326.04 was amended to establish a “program of excellence” designation for joint vocational school districts (JVSD), comprehensive career-technical education providers, compact career-technical education (CTE) providers and educational service centers (ESC). Now, specific programs within a JVSD or CTE school may apply for designation on a program-by-program basis.

The intent of this law was to create an attainable designation pathway for STEM/STEAM aligned programs of study within JVSD, CTE and ESC schools. The requirements for this designation are aligned with traditional designation requirements, with one key difference. Now, individual program can now be designated, and that the program of excellence designation is reserved specifically and exclusively for JVSD, CTE and ESC programs. Interested schools and programs should use the current STEM/STEAM designation application and indicate that you are applying as a STEM program of excellence on page 5.

Application and Timeline – the designation window is now open! All designation documents, including the application, can be found on the Ohio Department of Education’s STEM and STEAM school designation information page. Important designation dates:

  • November 15thFY23 Application Posted
  • December 15th:  Complete this survey to inform the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio STEM Learning Network on your intent to apply and if technical assistance will be pursued.
  • January 19th: Submit a rough draft of the application/portfolio to the Ohio STEM Learning Network for technical assistance. Email rough drafts to osln@battelle.org.  You will receive feedback on your draft application in time to make changes prior to the final submission to the Ohio Department of Education.
  • February 24th: Final applications due to the Ohio Department of Education, stem@education.ohio.gov,  by 5 p.m.
  • March-April 2022: After a preliminary review from the Ohio STEM Learning Network, site visits to selected schools will be conducted during the spring (March/April). A school may also request a site visit when submitting their application.
  • April 2022: Applicants will be notified of the Ohio STEM Learning Network’s recommendation.
  • May 2022: The Ohio STEM committee will vote on designated schools

For any questions regarding STEM designation, contact Kelly Gaier Evans via the OSLN mailbox (osln@battelle.org).

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