Local ISD Gets $400K in STEM Grants from DoD

Presentation of grant checks
Presentation of grant checks from DoDSTEM to Northwest ISD | Image by Northwest ISD

A local school district is getting several taxpayer-funded grants totaling over $400,000 to boost students’ college readiness.

Officials from Northwest ISD announced that the district accepted grants from the Department of Defense STEM Education and Outreach Office (DoDSTEM) and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). Northwest ISD will administer the funds to boost its high schools’ AP and honors classes in STEM and provide additional training to math and science teachers.

“Students benefit when teachers have the opportunity to acquire deeper content knowledge that this grant funds,” explained Northwest ISD’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Michael Griffin, in a news release.

The grants will also help students pay for AP exams. Students will pay only $40 per AP test, while those deemed in financial need will pay only $20, reported the Fort Worth Report.

“Reducing the cost of AP tests on top of what our district already pays for also makes acquiring college credit more attainable,” said Griffin.

The taxpayer-funded grants awarded to Northwest ISD will be divided among the following campuses:

  • Byron Nelson High School: $101,276
  • Eaton High School: $91,904
  • Northwest High School: $92,579
  • Steele Early College High School: $117,326

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District (EMSISD) also received NMSI and DoDSTEM grants, which will be distributed as follows:

  • Boswell High School: $131,157
  • Chisholm Trail High School: $143,841
  • Saginaw High School: $202,655

Both grant-awarding bodies are part of the Defense Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Consortium, which aims to give students better access to STEM education by improving and expanding school programs. A primary aim is to create an education pipeline for skilled technical workers to bolster national security.

This has been the rationale underpinning several projects funded by federal taxpayer dollars to increase the technological prowess and competitiveness of the United States after it has reportedly fallen behind its international counterparts.

For instance, in August 2022, President Joe Biden signed the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, which funded a Tech Hubs program to boost research and development in robotics, natural disaster prevention, biotechnology, and energy efficiency, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. Southern Methodist University was selected to oversee the newly designated Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub, which is currently in the planning and development phase.

Yet education has also been a focus of such initiatives, especially given reports that U.S. students are failing to keep up with their peers in countries such as China, as reported in The Dallas Express. This lag is most apparent in STEM subjects, with one Georgetown University study finding that China will have produced 77,000 STEM graduates by 2025 versus only 40,000 in the U.S.

Meanwhile, more than half of U.S. doctoral degrees in economics, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, and statistics are being pursued by international students on temporary visas.

Northwest ISD has been one of the better-performing school districts in the North Texas area. Some 57% of its students scored at grade level or above on their STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year, and it boasted a 97% on-time graduation rate.

At Dallas ISD, only 41% of students scored at grade level that school year and nearly 20% of its graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a diploma in four years despite the hard work of the district’s talented educators.

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