Arcadia High School Receives National Recognition for Commitment Providing STEM Coursework


Arcadia High student working on a robotics assignment


-Named a distinguished school for its STEM and career learning program-

Arcadia High School has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities to students through PLTW engineering courses. Arcadia High is one of only 10 schools in California and one of only 133 high schools across the U.S. to receive this honor.

“Our purpose in Arcadia Unified is to inspire students to have a positive and profound impact on their world,” shared Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall. “Receiving this honor helps us know we are staying true to our purpose by providing our students with important access to STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] programs that will prepare them for the world and for the economy they will enter after high school.”

The 2017-18 PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, Arcadia High had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three PLTW courses;
  • Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
  • Have 70 percent of students or more earn a Proficient or higher on PLTW End-of-Course Assessments, or 10 percent of students earn the AP + PLTW Student Achievement.

“It is a great honor to recognize Arcadia High School for its commitment to students,” said Vince Bertram, President and CEO of PLTW. “This school is a model for what school should look like, and Arcadia High should be very proud of ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they might choose.”


“Students in this program design, build, fabricate parts, program, test their designs, and justify their work before a design review board. In other words, they practice being an engineer,” said Program Coordinate and Arcadia High teacher Bill Chapman.

Arcadia High’s PLTW program includes three courses: Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and, the capstone course, Engineering Design and Development. The program also provides students the opportunity to work with and receive work critiques from professional engineers from the renowned Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

“Our students work with professional engineers through their capstone course, solving real-world engineering problems and developing and building designs that they take to both JPL’s Invention Challenge and the Los Angeles Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition,” said Chapman. “Another positive evolution of this program is that many of these students have continued their education in some of the finest STEM colleges in the country, with alumni coming back to help out our current students as mentors.”

Arcadia High School has also been distinguished a U.S. News and World Report Gold Medal School three times, an honor bestowed on less than 3 percent of the more than 19,000 schools in the country. Similarly, Newsweek named Arcadia High on its Top Public High Schools in America list. Arcadia High was also recently identified by as being in the top 2 percent of the best public high schools in California. For the second consecutive year, Arcadia High’s 2017 graduating class had at least one student accepted into every Ivy League school in the country. Likewise, for the second consecutive year, Arcadia Unified School District was named on the College Board’s 8th Annual AP® District Honor Roll.