Designed with a challenging, college-preparatory curriculum in mind, the Ann Richards School (ARS) places an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and requires students to graduate on the Texas Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP), the most rigorous in the state. Plus, 14 Advanced Placement (AP) courses including AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Spanish Language, AP Statistics, AP Studio Art, AP U.S. Government, AP U.S. History, and AP World History offer students the opportunity to earn college credit.
The curriculum at ARS engages in project-based, experiential learning to enhance real-world application. Through funding provided by Impact Austin and Intel, the remodeled 2200-square-foot ARS MakerSpace, a modern-day version of a shop classroom equipped with 3D printing technology and contemporary tools, supports advanced learning opportunities to explore, experiment, create, and invent. The space encourages tinkering and compliments the school’s project-based curriculum and focus on STEM. Students have year-round access to STEM education to encourage leadership.
ARS curriculum offerings include collaborative projects to explore career options. Sophomores learn content through a large-scale independent project that counts as credit towards the DAP. Juniors participate in a week-long internship with Austin area business partners. Seniors undergo a Capstone project where the students are charged with starting and organizing a business to solve a complex social problem.
High school students choose one sequence of four-year-long courses in a STEM Pathway–Biomedical Science, Engineering, or Media Technology. Our Media Technology Pathway courses are articulated for college credit through Austin Community College. The Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Pathways are nationally certified by Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM curriculum.
PLTW classes begin in middle school as required coursework through the Gateway to Technology curricula in order to guide students to select their STEM Pathway. Gateway to Technology curriculum has foundational coursework in Design and Modeling, and Automation and Robotics, with specialized courses in Energy and the Environment, Flight and Space, Green Architecture, and Medical Detectives.
The ARS Internship Program is a well-defined, short-term experiential learning opportunity facilitated through mutually beneficial partnerships.
Students at ARS begin preparing for college on their first day of class in the sixth grade. Extensive research has shown that setting the expectation of college attendance at an early age leads to significantly higher percentages of student college enrollment. ARS builds that expectation for each student and her family.