RHS Earns AdvancED STEM Certification

On Tuesday, March 28, the accreditation team from AdvancED visited, toured, and awarded Rockhurst its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) certification; Rockhurst also includes Arts in its STEAM programming.  This made Rockhurst just the 80th school in the nation, and the first in Missouri and Kansas, to earn this AdvancED designation.

"The most profound aspect of this achievement is that it is completely based on our Jesuit mission of growing and educating to the best of our ability," said Mr. Greg Harkness '81, principal.  "We are not a 'STEM school' but a Jesuit school with STEM ceritifcation.  Our students and faculty have done an outstanding job of understanding and accepting the need to adopt this type of learning, which is way different than it was fifty, twenty, even ten years ago."

According to the AdvancED website, AdvancED's STEM Certification provides institutions as well as programs within institutions a research-based framework and criteria for their awareness, continuous improvement and assessment of the quality, rigor and substance of their STEM educational programs.  Through valid and reliable processes, tools and training, AdvancED STEM Certification ensures that even the most effective educators and programs continually assess and improve to meet the needs and demands of the real world.

"The certification acknowledges that the STEAM initiative helped Rockhurst further fulfill its mission as a Jesuit School," said Mr. Greg Owsley '00, STEAM Director.  "Increased student collaboration in active learning classrooms, and creating opportunities for students to merge their skills into their service opportunities helps connect the qualities of intellectual competence with a commitment to justice. The STEM certification team was very impressed when they interviewed students because the students proactively articulated how their opportunities were connected with the values of Rockhurst High School, specifically in terms of the Profile of the Graduate at Graduation."

The certification is good for five years, at which point another STEM Certification Review visit will need to take place.  In the meantime, Rockhurst will not stay complacent with its STEAM efforts.

"The next step for Rockhurst is to further connect students to the twenty-first century world and empower them to, as St. Ignatius says, 'go set the world on fire,'" said Owsley.  "In terms of intellectual competence, Rockhurst is offering dynamic, project-based courses such as Principles of Engineering, Fundamentals of Science Research and Entrepreneurship for Others. Expanding the number of Active Learning Classrooms will continue to increase the opportunities for an engaging and innovative learning experience that includes peer to peer collaboration and active learning, which support the formation of 'men with and for others' that are open to growth and loving.  Increased participation in the Ignatian Carbon Challenge, which is inspired by Pope Francis's Laudato Si, helps students realize the connection between their religious values and their world."

Here are the STEM Certificate Standard and Indicators:

STEM students have the skills, knowledge, and thinking strategies that prepare them to be innovative, creative, and systematic problem-solvers in STEM fields of study and work.


  • The STEM school/program supports non-traditional student participation through outreach to groups often underrepresented in STEM program areas.
  • Students work independently and collaboratively in an inquiry-based learning environment that encourages finding creative solutions to authentic and complex problems.
  • Students are empowered to personalize and self-direct their STEM learning experiences supported by STEM educators who facilitate their learning.
  • Students use technology resources to conduct research, demonstrate creative and critical thinking, and communicate and work collaboratively.
  • Students demonstrate their learning through performance-based assessments and express their conclusions through elaborated explanations of their thinking.


  • The interdisciplinary problem-based curriculum includes a focus on real world applications.
  • STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
  • STEM learning outcomes demonstrate students’ STEM literacy necessary for the next level of STEM learning and for post- secondary and workforce readiness.
  • STEM teachers and leaders participate in a continuous program of STEM-specific professional learning. 


  • Community, post-secondary, business/industry partners and/or families actively support and are engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program.
  • Students are supported in their STEM learning through adult-world connections and extended day opportunities.

In January, Rockhurst High School also proudly announced that it was accepted as an Associated Member with the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS) - read here.  

For more information, visit the Rockhurst STEAM Blog.

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Rockhurst High School

Established in 1910 - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

9301 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO 64114-3299     816.363.2036