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The UMBC-BCPS STEM partnership of the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is an innovative project that will facilitate the implementation, testing, refinement and dissemination of promising practices for improving STEM student achievement as well as teacher quality/retention in selected high-needs elementary, middle and high schools in Baltimore County Public Schools. Centered on creating and evaluating performance-based preservice teacher education (interns) programs and sustainable professional development programs for teachers and administrators, the project is designed to increase P-12 student achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by increasing intern/teacher and administrator knowledge and confidence related to these areas. On-going formative and summative assessments of student work and the differentiation of instruction based upon the assessments will serve as the driving force to continuously evaluate and refine: instruction, curricula and assessments; professional development programs; administrative leadership strategies; and directions for overall school improvement in STEM areas. Engineering will be emphasized as one of the applied contexts for creating authentic STEM understandings through inquiry and problem/issue-based approaches. UMBC and BCPS are collaborating fully in these efforts by establishing a Center for Excellence in STEM Education where faculty and BCPS teachers/administrators will collaboratively develop projects to serve the needs of the BCPS district and the university with the goal of transforming STEM undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs and the teaching/learning cultures within the BCPS district and UMBC Education and STEM departments. The transfer of ideas on STEM teaching and learning will take place through collaboratively developed projects created through the center. This unique project will create a collaborative (school-district/university partnership) model for data-driven differentiated STEM instruction and comprehensive school improvement within one of the country's largest and most diverse suburban school districts. The customized approaches and research resulting from this project will inform other large school districts struggling with similar STEM challenges as well as other universities wanting to transform their STEM and teacher education programs to better meet the needs of diverse learners in the university and surrounding P-12 schools.