New certification recognizes comprehensive program quality to distinguish STEM providers that meet high standards from other content and service agencies.
Today, the school-improvement, assessment, and certification organization Cognia recognized the Charlotte, NC-based Discovery Education as one of the first organizations to earn its inaugural Cognia STEM Provider Certification. The certification, launched this year, aims to help school leaders and community stakeholders identify quality providers of STEM programs that:
- Promote scientific inquiry and engineering design
- Develop skill sets that transfer across career sectors
- Bolster students’ capacity for critical thinking and perseverance through complex tasks
- Engage students deeply in their local community in ways that connect learning to the real world.
“The certification is designed to differentiate organizations that simply put a STEM stamp on their materials and marketing and those that have products and services that meet high standards,” says Dr. Mark Elgart, President and CEO of Cognia. The certification process, Dr. Elgart notes, involves several stages of rigorous internal, external, and on-site review and assessment of performance against standards focused on contributions to the STEM pipeline, STEM learning, connections to real-world applications and community, and program efficacy.
While Cognia accredits schools and school districts and provides certification in a number of areas, including Early Learning STEM and STEM school programs, the new certification is designed to assure quality among content and service providers, including professional development organizations, publishers, after-school providers, university-based STEM learning centers, and others.
“In reviewing Discovery Education—a leading global provider of standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, content, and professional learning—our evaluators were particularly impressed by the expertise and passion the organization brings to its work in extending STEM learning opportunities for young people,” noted Scott Davidson, Senior Director, STEM services at Cognia.
“Discovery Education is proud to earn the Cognia seal of approval,” said Scott Kinney, President of K-12 Education for Discovery Education. “While we are well-known in the STEM field, the certification demonstrates that we have exceeded rigorous expectations and will help set us apart from other programs by education leaders who understand the importance of Cognia STEM Certification.”
Attaining Cognia STEM Provider Certification means that national and international providers meet rigorous standards in four domains of quality:
- The Stem Pipeline: Certified providers demonstrate that they increase student participation in and partner/stakeholder engagement and support for STEM programs, and bring content experts, developers, and/or staff together to create and improve integrated STEM content.
- STEM Learning: Certified providers encourage learner collaboration and independence in an inquiry-based learning environment; emphasize self-directed STEM learning guided by skilled educator as facilitators; and embed learners’ use of technology resources to develop skills and competencies related to the STEM workforce.
- STEM Connections: Certified providers advance interdisciplinary and problem-based curriculum and activities with a focus on real-world applications; extend STEM learning through enrichment and/or extended day or year-long opportunities; demonstrate that learners acquire progressively higher levels of STEM knowledge and skills needed for future success.
- STEM Program Efficacy: Certified providers offer high-quality training and professional learning associated with STEM curriculum, programming, and/or implementation; have an implementation framework for program participants or specific sites, and use a research- or evidence-based model for program evaluation and planning for continuous improvement.
To develop the certification, Cognia’s design team reviewed the best research available about quality STEM implementation and what constitutes student-directed learning environments, and paid close attention to federal policy guidance on what it takes to create engaged communities of practice and partner networks. The work also builds on Cognia’s STEM School Certification that has evaluated over 200 schools in 24 states during the past five years.
“In the long run, we want to create clarity about what it means to have quality implementation and bring together an ever-growing group of STEM certified institutions as a community of practice to improve the quality of STEM learning in the United States,” Mr. Davidson said. “Our vision is that all students have the opportunity to pave their own path into the future, using STEM skills and knowledge to make their way.”
Discovery Education is part of a select, purposefully diverse group of providers that have earned the certification. The other groups include:
- a university research center: Center for STEM Education at the University for Notre Dame
- a school district: Cobb County, GA, STEM and Innovation Department
- a grant-funded out-of-school program: C2Pipeline at Wayne State University, a school-based program serving 21 metro Detroit high schools that connects students to STEM opportunities
Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 90 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning.
About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. Through its award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia resources, and the largest professional learning network of its kind, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning, creating immersive STEM experiences, and improving academic achievement around the globe. Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms and primary schools in the U.K. and reach over 5 million educators and 51 million students in more than 90 countries. Inspired by the global media company Discovery, Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to empower teachers with customized solutions that support the success of all learners. Explore the future of education at www.DiscoveryEducation.com.