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General Questions

Why do we need the Virginia STEAM Academy?

The Commonwealth faces a large deficit of STEAM-educated workers. A 2010 Georgetown University study found that by 2018, Virginia will need to fill more than 400,000 STEAM-related jobs. (Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018 [2010])

The Academy offers a long-term, sustainable solution for the 21st century knowledge worker needs. It ensures we nurture an exceptionally well-prepared high school graduate who can enter higher education or the workplace with the knowledge, skills, leadership and creativity needed to excel.

Who can attend?

Any rising 9th or 10th grade student in the Commonwealth of Virginia may apply to attend the Virginia STEAM Academy boarding high school. The admissions panel will use multiple judgement criteria in its selection (school records, essays, references, exams, interviews, etc.)

Who will teach at the Academy?

The Academy’s faculty will be drawn from certified secondary school teachers, business and industry, and higher education. Eventually, approximately 75 faculty and staff will be hired. The student:teacher ratio will be 13:1 in non-lab classes.

How much will it cost?

When fully operational (i.e., approximately 500 students), the Academy’s annual operating budget will be $10 million. This includes academic, co-curricular, residential, and online components, as well as professional development outreach.

Has this been done before?

Yes! North Carolina was the first to offer a public, statewide, residential academy for highly able science and mathematics students. The North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) was founded in 1980. Since 1982, NCSSM has graduated 7,500 students—60% of whom live in the state and 60% of whom pursued a degree in STEAM fields of study (nearly four times the national average). For the state’s annual investment of $20 million, it now receives an annual return on that investment of $500 million. (Source: Karen Dash Consulting, Economic Impact Statement, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics [2011]) This is due, in part, to the fact that NCSSM alums typically earn double the average North Carolinian’s salary, and NCSSM alums start and lead a number of successful businesses. Virginia can expect a similar impact with the full implementation of the Virginia STEAM Academy. Today, there are more than 100 schools across 29 states offering some version of a public, specialized high schools for students who show exceptional talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These schools comprise the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS). Many are residential schools. The Virginia STEAM Academy is an associate member of the NCSSS.

Where will the Academy be located?

Fort Monroe in Hampton is the preferred site for the Virginia STEAM Academy — state-owned property for a statewide academy. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, Fort Monroe is surrounded by some of the leading federal, state, and private investments in STEAM-related business and scientific and engineering research and development, including NASA Langley, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, National Institute of Aerospace, Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, and Newport News Shipbuilding, to name a few. Virginia STEAM Academy students and faculty will gain invaluable mentorship, sabbatical, and research opportunities with practicing scientists. In addition, the area is home to major universities and a diverse constellation of public, K-12 school divisions, providing a natural laboratory for the development of cutting-edge, evidence-based practices for statewide consideration.