The Frisco ISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Engineering.
PLTW is a nonprofit organization that empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. More than 10,500 elementary, middle and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs.
The CTE Center is one of just 340 PLTW schools across the country to receive the honor, which recognizes schools committed to increasing student access, engagement and achievement in PLTW programs.
PLTW Engineering empowers high school students to step into the role of an engineer and adopt a problem-solving mindset. Students engage in collaborative, hands-on activities such as designing a house and programming an electronic device. Partnerships with multiple engineering firms and companies such as Jamba Juice and Frito-Lay enhance student learning and provide internship opportunities.
In their senior year, students taking Engineering Design and Development develop a solution to a real-world problem they identify – the solution might improve safety, enhance quality of life or address an environmental issue. A partnership between Garver Engineering and the Frisco Education Foundation awards college scholarships to the top projects.
“In our courses, there is no straight path,” said Ken Strong, PLTW Engineering instructor at the CTE Center. “Every one of our kids takes a different road to arrive at ‘the answer.’ It challenges them to think differently and become problem solvers.”
The PLTW Engineering program has grown considerably in Frisco ISD since it was introduced in 2008, the same year the CTE Center open its doors. Strong, the first and only PLTW teacher in FISD at the time, was named the Texas PLTW Engineering Teacher of the Year earlier this year. Today, there are six PLTW Engineering instructors who teach about 850 high school students from across the District.
To be eligible for the PLTW Distinguished School designation, the CTE Center had to meet the following criteria:
- Offer at least three PLTW courses;
- Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
- Have 70 percent of students or more earn a Proficient or higher on PLTW End-of-Course Assessments, or 10 percent of students earn the AP + PLTW Student Achievement.
“It is a great honor to recognize the Frisco ISD Career and Technical Education Center for their commitment to students,” said Vince Bertram, president and CEO of PLTW. “They are a model for what school should look like, and they should be very proud of ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”
Frisco ISD will add the elementary PLTW program, PLTW Launch, starting in this fall at Bright Academy, the District’s first School of Choice. The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program includes compelling activities, projects and problems that build upon each other and allow students to relate to the world around them.
In addition, Strong won a $20,000 grant from PLTW to implement the middle school PLTW program, PLTW Gateway, at Vandeventer Middle School. The grant was made possible through the support of the Toyota USA Foundation. FISD will pilot the PLTW Gateway program at Vandeventer during the 2018-19 school year, with the hopes of expanding it in the future. PLTW Gateway empowers students to lead their own discovery and exposes them to a range of paths and possibilities that they can look forward to in high school and beyond.