The T-STEM Designation Process

Under the authority of Texas Education Code §39.235 and Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §102.1093, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has a designation process for Texas – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Academies. This process ensures districts or open-enrollment charter schools operating T-STEM Academies maintain the integrity of the model, which was designed to improve instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects at secondary schools.

In accordance with TEC §39.235, the designation process is required for all existing and proposed T-STEM Academies.

What are the benefits for schools that achieve T-STEM Designation?

  1. Recognition as an Approved T-STEM Academy:

    Schools designated by TEA as state-approved T-STEM Academies will receive various forms of media recognition including, but not limited to: identification on TEA’s website as a state-approved T-STEM Academy and recognition in press releases.

  2. Participation in T-STEM Convenings:

    Special events hosted by TEA for T-STEM Academy administrators and principals to provide input on policies and procedures that impact T-STEM Academies.

  3. Membership in the T-STEM Network:

    Frequently opportunities are provided for principals, teachers, and students in designated T-STEM Academies through the T-STEM network to share best practices through conferences and technical assistance sessions. Membership in the T-STEM Network allows T-STEM Academies to access online exemplars, professional development, and webinars.

  4. Access to Professional Development and Technical Assistance:

    Designated T-STEM academies will have access to high-quality professional development and technical assistance including:

    1. Advice and information from a Leadership Coach who has successfully facilitated the design and implementation of the majority of T-STEM Academies operating in Texas.

    2. Opportunities to attend high-quality, effective professional development and training provided by the T-STEM technical assistance provider. The training provided by these organizations may be offered to designated Academies at a reduced cost.

  5. Strength of T-STEM Model:
    1. Through the designation process, TEA will recognize those T-STEM Academies that effectively incorporate T-STEM Design Blueprint elements. The designation process will enable districts and their partners to engage in the research and planning necessary to ensure that their T-STEM Academies are set up in the most effective way possible.

    2. The T-STEM Blueprint provides a framework for T-STEM Academies to access college and career opportunities that support post secondary success.

What resources are available to help me understand T-STEM Academies?

  • Visit an existing T-STEM academy. All existing T-STEM academies are demonstration sites. Contact a T-STEM Academy to arrange a site visit. A list of Academies can be found here.
  • T-STEM Centers provide high quality STEM professional development and support to STEM Academies and schools interested in improving STEM programs. The 7 T-STEM Centers are located at education service centers or institutions of higher education. T-STEM Centers are able to provide technical support to campuses interested in implementing the T-STEM Academy model. A list of Centers is available here:

  • BEFORE YOU APPLY: review and internalize the full T-STEM Academy Design Blueprint here.

How do I apply for T-STEM Designation?

  • Proceed to the guidelines page to begin the application process.

  • Applications are due to TEA on or before May 2, 2014 at 5 pm in order to open a campus as a designated T-STEM Academy during the 2014-2015 school year. The TEA will notify each applicant of its approval status to operate a designated T-STEM Academy by June 2014.

  • Districts must complete this application each year in order to renew T-STEM Academy Designation.

What if I require technical assistance?

Date/Time Description

Tuesday April 08, 2014
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

To view the recorded version of the 04/08/14 T-STEM Technical Assistance webinar, please click the link below.


Note, to view the recorded webinar, name and email information must be provided.

Click here for a copy of the 04/08/2014 technical assistance presentation.

T-STEM Academy Designation Overview and Technical Assistance

An opportunity to learn about the T-STEM Academy designation requirements including benefits and application requirements.

Who should attend

  • Existing T-STEM Academies
  • Districts and charter schools planning on applying for T-STEM designation.

For assistance completing the application:

  • The 77 2013-2014 Designated T-STEM Academies may contact their T-STEM coach and/or their assigned T-STEM Center.
  • New applicants may contact any of the 7 T-STEM Centers or email tstem@tea.state.tx.us with specific questions regarding T-STEM Designation.

Can I visit current T-STEM Academies?

All existing T-STEM academies are demonstration sites. Contact a T-STEM Academy to arrange a site visit. A list of Academies can be found here.


Designation Process

  • Will every campus that applies for designation receive designation?

    No. Applications are reveiwed and scored by multiple reviewers. The designation application must demonstrate an applicants's ability to implement the T-STEM model with fidelity.

  • If a campus is designated, does that mean they will receive grant funding if it becomes available?

    No. The grant process and the designation process are entirely separate processes. Should grant funds become available, all grantees will be required to apply for and become designated.

  • We want to apply for designation with the intent that if designated we will operate as a magnet school. Is this acceptable?

    No, T-STEM is not a magnet program. T-STEM Academies should serve all students with a special emphasis on underrepresented populations (economic disadvantaged, at-risk, ELL, and first generation college goers)

  • Is there a limit to the number of applications that will receive T-STEM designation?

    No. there is not a particular number of Academies that will be designated each year. Designation is based off of an application's score, not on a set quota of Academies.

Completing the Application

  • How do existing Academies receive an application code?

    Existing Academies can select their name from a dropdown menu that pops up when applicants click inside the "Academy Name" box in the New Application section. The application code will be sent to the e-mail address that is entered to start the new application.

  • Is it possible to begin an application and complete it over multiple sessions?

    Yes. After an applicant has a code for the application, that code is used to access the application at any time, Remember to save often so information will not be lost.

  • Can multiple people work on an application?

    Yes. After an application code has been generated, the code can be shared with as many people within the Academy as desired. Only one person may access the application at any given time, but numerous people can access and work to complete the appplication.

  • If I start an application and during the process realize my school does not meet the guidelines for designation, do I have to submit an application?

    No. Applicants are not required to submit an application that has been started. It is important to review the Blueprint requirements before starting the application.

  • If I have been previously designated as a high school, is it possible to add a middle school to my designation application?

    Yes. T-STEM academies can be expanded to include middle schools. It is important to note that T-STEM eligibility is for academies that are serving grades 9-12, or 6-12. Multiple applications are not necessary. If an Academy wants to add a middle school to the application, another application for the middle school is not needed.

  • If the Acadamy consists of multiple schools/campuses, are the master calendars required for each school?

    Yes. A master schedule is required for each cohort of students that is part of the T-STEM Academy.

  • In reading the designation application part 3, I'm unclear on the definitions of a few of the terms. Where can I find more additional information?

    Refer to the full T-STEM Blueprint. A glossary of terms included in the back of the full T-STEM Blueprint.

  • What is an MOU?

    MOU is Memorandum of Understanding. This critical document between parties descibes the agreement of all parties. It ensures that each party has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Many districts have existing MOUs with entities that can be used as an example.

  • Are more points awarded to applicants who submit multiple applications?

    No. T-STEM Designees may have MOU with more than one IHE, T-STEM, Center of Business; however the application allows for only one MOU of each type to be submitted.

  • Are draft MOUs acceptable for designation?

    No. Academies will not receive designation status until Final MOUs have been submitted.

  • When are applications due?

    Applications must be submitted by 5:00pm on May 02, 2014.

  • After the application has been scored, will schools receive feedback from the reviewers?

    Yes. Each school that applied for designation will be provided feedback concerning the application's strengths and opportunities for growth.

  • Can anyone register to use the T-STEM Blueprint and its resources via http://www.tstemblueprint.org/?

    Yes, anyone can register and use the resources available at this site. We encourage applicants to make use of this resource and all it has to offer.

  • How do I upload an MOU with an IHE if my school only offers AP courses and does not offer dual credit classes?

    For the MOU upload, in this case, the applicant can upload a statement that explains that their academy only offers AP courses. This is only if the academy does NOT offer any dual credit courses. If the academy offers both AP and dual credit courses, an MOU with an IHE is a required upload.

  • What if one or more of the MOUs will not be available before the application deadline?

    If the applicant is waiting for the final version or a signed version of an MOU, they can upload a draft version of any MOU. There is an option to upload a draft and there is also a space for to put the date that the final draft is expected to be available. TEA expects the final draft from the applicant at the date they provide. Please keep in mind though, the academy will not officially receive designation status until TEA has the final versions of all uploads.

  • How do I report multiple IHEs in the application?

    TEA requires that applicants upload a single MOU with an IHE.

  • Can I get a PDF version of the application?

    Once inside the application, please click the link in the top right of the screen that allows applicants to create a PDF version of the application at any time.

Technical Assistance

  • Are there any browser requirements?

    Yes. For best results please use one of the followoing browsers: Google Chrome 31.0+, Safari 7.0+, Mozilla Firefox 25.0+, and Internet Explorer 10.0+

To view the recorded version of the 04/08/2014 T-STEM Technical Assistance webinar, please click the link below.
Note, to view the recorded webinar, name and email information must be provided.


Click here for a copy of the 04/08/2014 technical assistance presentation.