Uchenna God-win Offor

Lithia Springs STEM student Uchenna God-win Offor analyzes the result of lab work to diagnose gene mutations.

Lithia Springs High School is among only two Georgia high school to earn certification of its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program at both state and national levels, the school district announced.

The high school in northeast Douglas County, as well as Kennesaw Mountain High School, are the only two to receive educational accreditation agency AdvanceEd’s certification, which is an internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM schools and programs, stated a news release from the Douglas County School System.

The certification indicates that Lithia Springs has demonstrated a commitment to preparing students for educational and career opportunities of the future, the release stated. It also is committed to providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in postsecondary pursuits and in the workforce in the 21st century economy, the release stated.

The school previously earned state STEM certification from the Georgia Department of Education.

Lithia Springs STEM Coordinator Payton Millinor said school officials were “proud to not only be (one of two) state and AdvancED STEM-certified high schools in the state of Georgia” but to also “one of the most diverse.”

In order to earn national STEM certification, Lithia Springs had to demonstrate adherence to the AdvancED STEM standards as reflected by the school’s performance in 11 STEM indicators. The certification process provides an evaluation and improvement process supported by research-based tools and resources.

Achieving high scores across the indicators certify that students have been equipped and trained to be innovative, creative, and systematic problem-solvers across disciplines, the release stated.

AdvancED’s STEM certification team also reviewed evidence of the quality of the school’s STEM program, conducted classroom observations and interviewed school administrators, faculty, parents, students, and business partners to verify the school’s commitment to connecting STEM experiences in the classroom to the local community and world at large.

Millinor said, “These certifications reflect the dedication and commitment of our teachers, parents, and partners to preparing the students of Douglas County with the relevant skills, and meaningful and deep learning experiences that will dominate the workforce of tomorrow.

“Furthermore, a quality STEM education can help to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps of today’s math and science fields. STEM is the future, and our STEM Academy graduates enter their post-secondary endeavors as confident, innovative thinkers and problem solvers who will lead their generation,” Millinor said.

“STEM certification will continue to uphold our school to high standards while providing a clear roadmap for us to continuously improve our STEM disciplines and program.”

Superintendent Gordon Pritz said the STEM magnet program at Lithia Springs “is an outstanding opportunity for students across the county who are passionate about these subjects.

“We are proud of all the students, teachers, and administrators who have contributed to the complete turnaround of Lithia Springs High School over the last five to six years,” he said, in reference to the school’s formerly routinely poor results in standardized testing and other academic areas.

The state had identified Lithia Springs as a Priority School in 2011 after it lagged behind state and national benchmarks for years, according to an article published on the National Association of Secondary School Principals web site. A Priority School is among the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in terms of academic achievement.

However, it later received a $6 million state School Improvement Grant which led to installing the STEM program, increasing teacher and student support and improving its test scores significantly.

The school continues to be rated low for School Climate, a state measure which "refers to the quality and character of school life" and is "reflective of the patterns of the students, parents and school personnel’s experience of school life." School district officials noted the the rating does not include any safety issues at the school.

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