While the district’s STEM Academy for Automation, Robotics & Computer Science (ARC) launched at Cypress Springs High School, the program is available for all CFISD high school students, Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said at a Sept. 5 board work session.
The program is designed to help prepare students to continue training and education in careers like mechanical and electrical engineering, hardware and software engineering and computer programming.
The four-year program features a rigorous curriculum plan starting in ninth grade which includes AP and dual-credit courses. In addition to this course load, Macias said students will also spend time after school and on the weekends designing, building and modifying robots.
Industry certifications in programs such as Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor and Oracle Java Programming are available to participants.
“This is our first year with it, so the kids are taking a couple of courses, [but] as we continue building the coursework, we will see more and more equipment and software there that is unique to the STEM Academy,” she said.
Spanish action-based learning lab pilot programs also started at the beginning of the school year at Andre' and Sampson elementary schools.
Macias said the district currently has a shortage of teachers who can meet the needs for dual-language programming. CFISD reported 41 bilingual classrooms in 2018-19 did not have certified bilingual teachers.
Starting with kindergarten, first and second grade students, and with plans to add an elementary grade level each year, the program gives students an immersive experience that incorporates movement.
Students rotate through the lab twice a week. Macias said no English is spoken in the classroom; students will instead learn through visuals, pantomiming and the teacher’s actions.
“The goal is for our kids to be able to—in Spanish—listen [and] speak,” Macias said, adding students would also learn to read and write in Spanish as they move through the program. “We’re sending our kids into the middle schools actually with a good foundation in Spanish.”
In its pilot phase, the lab is funded by Title IV, but Macias said the district will have to use its general funds as officials add more elementary schools to the program.