The results of an audit by an independent accrediting agency led to recertification of Carrollton High School’s STEM curriculum, bolstered by specific success of the school’s Computer Science program.
Cognia, an education nonprofit that reviews school operations and awards general accreditation status to school systems, also awards specific certification for programs. In 2015, CHS received its first STEM certification by the agency, becoming only the 18th high school in the world to achieve this milestone at the time.
Karen Wild, director of School Improvement for Carrollton City Schools, noted this most recent certification effort was particularly exceptional, thanks to a deliberate school effort to boost its Computer Science offerings and credits CS department chair Robby Blakemore as the catalyst.
Wild said Blakemore, who was the project lead, implemented efforts to grow the CS program to a level that prepares students to enter the workforce out of high school or continue with specialized post-secondary training.
“He has worked with administration and staff to increase the number and diversity of students engaged in CS,” said Wild. “He led the system in a vertically-aligned approach to CS that allows students to experience high school level courses in junior high school which results in a high school experience that parallels post secondary and career-level learning.”
Wild noted Blakemore, who was named CHS Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year, also engaged with CS businesses in the local community and in Atlanta to gain insight for curriculum and performance expectations that align with today’s workforce. She said he also took ownership of the process, making personal contacts with all stakeholders through the effort.
“He did all of this in a genuine and kind manner,” said Wild.
In the Cognia review, CHS received the “impactful” rating, the highest possible, in 14 of 16 standards studied with the remaining two achieving “improving,” the next highest mark.
In the review summary, the agency stated that “it was apparent that CHS is a leader in STEM education.
“The STEM education at the school mirrors what is really occurring in STEM careers,” continued the report. “All students participate in the curriculum, regardless of their academic level.”
Ian Lyle, who was recently appointed as CHS principal, was also instrumental in the effort as the former director of the Career, Technical, Agricultural Education program at CHS.
“As we evaluated our programs and compared them to what is needed in the workforce, Computer Science became the obvious focus,” said Lyle. “Mr. Blakemore took the challenge to heart, implemented innovative actions by using app development to engage students to bring more into the fold. His work and the work of our other teachers, community stakeholders, and students in the overall accreditation process was impressive and should be commended.”