How are SST charter schools different from a public school?
The School of Science and Technology is a public school system. As with all public schools, SST schools are: tuition free, held to state and federal academic standards and are non-sectarian and non-discriminatory.
SST schools are funded through Average Daily Attendance funds provided through the Texas Education Agency. Unlike traditional public schools, SST schools do not receive any local tax dollars. This is because SST schools are schools of choice and students from any location may attend. Traditional public school students attend schools determined by geographic attendance zone boundaries.
SST schools are not governed by the local independent school district board. SST schools operate under the Riverwalk Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with its own independent board of directors.
Charter schools, generally, have more autonomy than traditional public schools. This allows charter schools the freedom to be more innovative while at the same time being accountable for student achievement.
Who serves on the SST Board of Directors?
School of Science and Technology School’s Board of Directors are all unpaid volunteers who come from varied backgrounds in academia, medicine, science, and mathematics and share a common passion for education. The Board also solicits input and insight from various individuals and business community members in the San Antonio area. A list of board members can be found here.
Board nominations can be made by anyone, including existing board members, School of Science and Technology employees, parents, alumni, and the general public. The board reviews the qualifications of nominees and seeks individuals who have expertise, experience, or leadership abilities that will contribute to maintaining a continued standard of excellence for School of Science and Technology Schools.
How is SST funded?
SST is a publicly funded charter school. SST receives fund through the State of Texas based on average daily attendance (ADA). For each day that a student meets the state school attendance SST receives funding. SST does not receive any local tax funds.
Who is responsible for examining SST finances?
SST follows the regulations set by the State of Texas related to finances and is accountable to the Texas Education Agency. The Board of Directors and the leadership are responsible for stewardship of all funds. An independent audit is conducted annually and is available here.
ENROLLMENT AT SST
Who can attend SST?
SST provides open enrollment opportunities for K-12 students. Any student can apply for enrollment at any SST school. A lottery system is used to select students as applications exceed the available spaces. The lottery is conducted in March and is open to the public.
One misconception about charter schools in general is that students are “hand-picked.” There is no admission criteria. Parents must simply complete the application and meet the application deadline. About 75% of SST students are minority and about 55-60% are economically disadvantaged. Despite the challenges, all SST schools are high performing because of the strong partnership of parents, students and educators
How can I apply for my child to be enrolled at SST?
SST schools are open enrollment schools and parents may complete an application at any time. Admission is based on availability of open student spaces and it determined by a lottery. Click here to apply.
What curriculum does SST follow?
SST schools follow the TEA standards set for all public schools. SST, however, focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education beginning in the fourth grade. Additionally, SST allows teachers and principals the freedom to put their knowledge of students and their creativity to work to develop innovative and engaging lessons that increase student achievement.
Why does SST focus on STEM?
When SST was started more than a decade ago, students entering college were often not prepared for entry level science and math classes. The founders of SST believed they could impact college preparation in science and math especially for underserved populations.
SST also wants to prepare students for successful future, and STEM occupations are projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. STEM occupation incomes are higher now are projected to continue to be higher than the median for all occupations. All jobs require some level of knowledge and expertise in technology. SST also believes that the critical thinking and analysis involved in STEM education is beneficial in many occupations and professions.
Do other areas of learning suffer because of the focus on STEM?
SST schools meet or exceed the achievement standards for all academic areas. English language arts, reading and social studies are tested in addition to mathematics and science. To be successful in school and in the future, students must have strong communication skills whether oral or written. SST strives to have an enriched curriculum in all areas including foreign languages and the arts. Character education is also an important part of the SST education model.
Why is character education taught at SST?
All students K-12 receive character education as part of the curriculum. Character education supports student success in the classroom and in the future. Success in life is not solely dependent on academic success.
Through the curriculum and the examples set by teachers and staff, students learn the importance of respect, responsibility, honesty, community and teamwork. Character education guides students in learning how to interact with others and how to make decisions that support their goals. This can reduce at-risk behavior while strengthening self-confidence and guiding students on a positive path.
What about sports and extracurricular activities?
Sports and other extracurricular activities are provided at all SST campuses. What is available varies at each campus. Some of the extracurricular clubs and activities include: theater/drama, chess, archery, dance, rock band, robotics, MathCounts, College Readiness Leadership Program, GenerationOn (community service), science, language and cybersecurity.
ACHIEVEMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
How does SST achievement compare to other schools?
All SST schools meet or exceed the Texas Education Accountability standards. Current accountability results are available here.
SST schools have also earned recognition from other organizations that assess achievement. For instance, the SST San Antonio high schools has repeatedly been named one of the top performing high schools in the United States and one of the most challenging by US News and World Report. More about student achievement can be found here.
How is SST held accountable for student achievement?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reviews student achievement. SST must meet the standards as required of all public schools. Charter schools that do not meet the standard can be closed by TEA.
All SST schools are high performing based on the TEA standards. The SST board of directors and leadership holds each school and themselves accountable for student success.
How do SST graduates do after high school?
One hundred percent of SST graduates are accepted into a four year university during their senior year. Most graduates go on to attend local and state colleges and universities. Many matriculate to some of the most competitive and prestigious universities in the United States. These include: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, Drexel and the University of Notre Dame.
SST continues to follow students after graduation, and a staff members visits SST graduates at the institutions they attend whether local, in state or out of state. This can ease transition from high school to college, and it also provides an opportunity to learn from students what SST can do to better prepare students for post-secondary education.