Through the generosity of the Texas Instruments Foundation and a committed partnership between Dallas ISD and SMU, Dallas middle school teachers and administrators had the opportunity to participate in the STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders. Participating teachers and leaders advanced their careers, became leaders in STEM integration, and contributed to developing the next generation of STEM professionals in the classroom. The STEM Academy was a four-year project, designed as a systems-level initiative focused at the school and science department level.

STEM Academy participants collaborating

Components of the Project

The focus of the STEM Academy was on students' success in science and STEM in school and beyond. To achieve this goal, we focused on three main groups of people: leaders, teachers, and students.

With leaders, we focused on building their academic leadership in science skills to support teachers' professional development and organizational behaviors to support teachers and students.

For teachers, we supported their development of scientific content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge focused on inquiry-based practices and aimed to increase teachers' confidence and competence.

For the students impacted by this project, we honed in on their achievement in science, their persistence in STEM courses, and their interest in science and STEM.

Outcomes of the Project

Teacher Outcomes

  • We worked with 45 middle-school science teachers as a part of STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders.
  • Using an externally-validated measure of teachers’ use of inquiry-based instructional strategies, we observed statistically significant increases in teachers’ implementation of inquiry-based learning.
  • We observed statistically significant increases in teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge over the length of the project.
  • Ten participants matriculated into the Master’s in Education program at SMU and graduated with master’s degrees in May 2020.
  • Four participants who started in teacher roles moved roles to serve in leadership roles such as curriculum and instruction coaches or instructional lead teachers.
  • Two teachers were recognized by the district as Teachers of the Year. One teacher was recognized a Distinguished Teacher based on the district’s Distinguished Teacher Review

Student Outcomes

  • The STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders influenced more than 4,682 students in grades 6-8 in 16 schools.
  • Based on a report written by Dallas ISD, students taught by STEM Academy teachers demonstrated statistically significantly higher science outcomes in grades 6 and 8.
  • Based on a report written by Dallas ISD, students taught by STEM Academy teachers were statistically significantly more likely to enroll in rigorous mathematics and science courses in Grade 9.

Leader Outcomes

  • We worked with 20 school-based leaders. These leaders were either curriculum and instruction coaches, instructional coaches, or assistant principals.


The STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders was generously funded through a lead gift from the Texas Instruments Foundation. A key objective for the TI Foundation is to advance student interest and teacher development in STEM.

Texas Instruments Logo

The O'Donnell Foundation also supports the STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders. The Foundation, started by Peter O'Donnell and his wife Edith, is one of the largest independent foundations in Dallas, and they have contributed generously to support science, math, and engineering programs among a variety of education initiatives.

This collaboration of vested partners is committed to broadly improve educational opportunities for teachers, leaders, and students in Dallas.