STEM Academy Counseling
STEM Academy Counseling Department
Counseling Secretary/Registrar: Ms. Stephanie Rockowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Regular Hours of Operation: The Counseling Department is open year -round, Monday-Friday from 7:00 am - 3:00 pm. Counselors are available during the school year from 7:25 am - 2:55 pm each day school is in session.
Appointment Scheduling: The Counseling Department operates on a "walk-in" approach. Students are not required to have an appointment to stop in and see their counselor. If the counselor is not available when a student drops in, they will be asked to schedule an appointment at a later time. Students are welcome to schedule an appointment if they prefer, and parents are likewise encouraged to schedule an appointment as well, to ensure a counselor will be available when they come in. To request an appointment, a student can fill out the following Google Form: Counseling Appointment Request Form
Course Selection takes place in January/February each year. School counselors are available to advise students on which classes they want to take based on their academic and post-secondary planning goals. Evening presentations for families will be available as well as opportunities for students to meet with their counselor.
The GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of Quality Points earned by the number of credits attempted. Quality Points are awarded depending upon the final grade earned and the credit value of the course. The credit value of the course is multiplied by quality points in the chart below. GPA can be viewed online as part of the electronic report card accessible through the parent portal.
Standard Course Quality Points
IB Standard Level
IB Higher Level
A = 4
A = 4.5
A = 5
B = 3
B = 3.5
B = 4
C = 2
C = 2.5
C = 3
D = 1
D = 1.5
D = 2
F = 0
F = 0
F = 0
Only grades and courses taken at the school district will be used to calculate a student’s GPA.
If a course is taken for grade improvement, both grades will be used to calculate the GPA but only one (1) credit will be awarded.
Alternate credits for original courses taken by providers other than through Dual Enrollment and district approved providers are reported on the official transcript but the grades are not calculated into the GPA.
Students are ranked in order of the GPA at the end of each school year. Class rank is not recalculated during the school year. Estimated class rank is available by request of the parent to the principal; it is not reported on the official transcript.
IB Diploma Candidates:
Stay Tuned for information!
Course Candidates ONLY:
(Please speak with your Counselor)
The Downingtown Area School District Graduation Project:
Aligned with the vision and beliefs of the Downingtown Area School District’s Comprehensive Plan.
- Gives students learning experiences beyond the classroom
- Enhances a student’s college and career resume
- DASD Graduation Project Guidelines:
- Students earn .34 high school credits for completing the graduation project.
- The project totals a minimum of 40 hours.
- School time may not be used to complete the project.
- Students must secure mentors (adult over 21 who is not a relative)
- Students complete required forms
- Students obtain project approval by the Graduation Project
- Teams at their high schools before beginning work.
Note: Graduation Project details and forms are available on the DASD website and on the websites of each high school. Click on the tab, “Students” at the top of the page.
Student Assistance Program
The Downingtown Area School District has a Student Assistance Program, SAP, which is available to all students. The SAP team is composed of faculty members who have received training and who have expressed an interest in helping students deal with personal problems. SAP is designed to assist in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco other drugs, and mental health which may pose a barrier to a student's success.
The team is available to all students grades 6-12 for assistance with problems of an non-academic nature. Students, parents, teachers and staff may refer anyone to the team. Each referred student periodically meets with a team member. While these meetings remain confidential, parental involvement is encouraged whenever possible. Please note a SAP referral is not appropriate for a student experiencing a mental health crisis. The 24-Hr Crisis referral resources provided in the right-hand margin should be utilized for immediate concerns during non school hours. If you would like to make a SAP referral please speak with an Administrator, School Counselor or Prevention Specialist at the school where your child attends.
For additional information regarding your child’s school- based team, you may reach out to the Prevention Specialist for your building.
School Counselor Support:
Downingtown Area School District School Counselors utilize a specific type of counseling when working with students. The solution-focused brief counseling (SFBC) approach is based on the belief that all students have within them the ability to be resilient and problem solve. School counselors work closely with students to brainstorm solutions that can work for their specific problem or need. SFBC differs from other modes of counseling in that it shifts the focus from the problem to creating present and future solutions. SFBC is a strengths-based approach, emphasizing resilience and resources individuals possess and how they can use them to enact purposeful and positive change. Since time is limited during the school day, counselors employ SFBC because it helps students create solutions in a straight-forward manner.
When a student shares a problem, concern or issue that requires more support than what a school counselor can provide during the school day, school counselors will refer the student to the prevention specialist or work with the family to seek community-based counseling services. Unlike school counseling, community-based counseling allows more time for students to work through their problems.
The Preliminary SAT, also known as the PSAT/NMSQT® (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is a practice version of the SAT exam. You can only take the PSAT once per year, and many students take the test in both 10th and 11th grade. If you earn a high score on the PSAT your junior year, you could qualify to receive a National Merit Scholarship—$180 million dollars in merit scholarships are awarded to students each year. The PSAT is 2 hours and 45 minutes long and tests your skills in reading, writing, and math. Unlike the SAT, the highest score possible on the PSAT is 1520.
The PSAT/NMSQT® is traditionally offered every October. To access your scores students to have a College Board Account. If your student does not have an account, they will need to create a new one. With a College Board Account, students gain access to free, personalized SAT practice through Khan Academy, tools learn about colleges, majors, and careers, and access to scholarship information.
Students can use this video to learn more about their PSAT/NMSQT®report and how to interpret their score: Understanding Your PSAT Score
If you’re interested in learning about the process for the National Merit Scholarship available to eligible 11th grade students who took the PSAT/NMSQT® more information can be found here: National Merit Competition
The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board. The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school student's readiness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants.
The optional SAT Essay was discontinued after the June 2021 administration.
You can learn more about the SAT and register for the exam here:
The ACT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. It is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test administered by ACT, Inc.
You can learn more about the ACT and register for the exam on their website: ACT Website
SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued in the United States, and was discontinued internationally after June 2021. You can read more information here: College Board SAT Subject Test FAQ
Standardized Test Prep
There are many test prep services located throughout the greater Philadelphia area. While DASD does not endorse a particular program, we are happy to share resources that many of our students have utilized.
- Khan Academy: Students can link their College Board and Khan Academy accounts to get automatic personalized recommendations based on PSAT performance, or take diagnostics if they didn't take the PSAT. The Khan Academy will recommend practice to you based on a student's results and allow them to practice other skills any time they'd like, even if we didn't recommend them to you. Video and text explanations will help students learn the skills covered on the test and demonstrate how the test is structured. Students can also take full-length practice exams too.
- SAT Prep Courses: Each year, the high school offers a six week set of courses courses to assist students with preparation for the upcoming SAT. College bound juniors typically take the SAT in the spring of the junior year and repeat the exam in the fall of the senior year, if necessary. Students can sign up for math and/or verbal prep classes. Courses for the current school are announced each year in December, and begin in Jan/Feb. A detailed schedule for the 22-23 school year will be provided at a later date.
- Other popular prep resources are:
Test-Blind and Test-Optional Admissions
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steady increase in colleges offering test-optional or test-blind admissions. A test-optional college is one that doesn't require students to submit standardized test scores as part of the application process. If the student chooses to send their score, it will be used as part of the admissions evaluation. A test-blind college will not look at a student's standardized test scores even if they send them. While the pandemic has impacted this policy, it is not entirely new. Bowdoin College in Maine first pioneered the test-optional policy back in 1969. Today, colleges in this group include all of the Ivy League universities, most large public universities, and many, many small liberal arts colleges. For a full list of test-optional and test-blind colleges, you are encouraged to visit The National Center for Fair & Open testing at FairTest.org.
What is a transcript? A high school transcript is a document detailing academic achievement in high school. Most colleges, scholarship applications and academic summer programs will request an official transcript, which will have your counselor;s signature and our school seal to verify its' authenticity.
The High School Transcript includes:
- DASD courses, final grades, and credits for each grade.
- Current Course Schedule
- Cumulative GPA (calculated at the end of each school year)
- Transcripts DO NOT include rank. If you are interested in knowing your class rank, please have a parent/guardian contact your counselor.
**The counseling office allows for 10 days school processing. Please keep in mind that once documents are received by the colleges and universities, it takes at least 6 to 8 weeks for them to process.
Naviance is a web-based service designed for students, parents, and counselors. It is a comprehensive website that you can use to help explore and make decisions about colleges and careers. Naviance includes up-to-date information specific to the students at your high school. Students can log in to their account by following the steps below. If you have difficulty logging in to your account, please see your school counselor.
To access Naviance please follow the steps below--you will be leaving the DASD web page.
1. Browse to DASD Classlink
2. Enter your Downingtown username and password.
3. Click on the Naviance Student icon.
Some of the things you can do in Naviance include:
- Link personality type and interests with careers
- Indicate preferences/ criteria to determine college matches
- Compare your academic statistics to the average statistics of your prospective colleges
- Predict the outcome of your application for a specific college using the Scattergrams
- Track application materials, including academic transcripts and teacher recommendation letters
Post-secondary planning can seem like an overwhelming process for students and families. A major goal for the the Counseling Department is to help our students and families navigate this process and prepare them for the transition to college and career. On this page, you will find various resources we think are helpful for students and parents as they move throughout the college process.
The STEM Academy school code (CEEB) is 391-036.
Resources have been broken up into the major components of the college research and application process:
Presentations & Resources
Over the course of the year, the counseling department provides several presentations to students and parents. This includes our back to school night, financial aid night, 11th grade college planning night, and classroom presentations.
- Financial Aid Night - presented each fall to any interested parent/student. Includes an overview of the financial aid process for both public and private institutions.
- For information regarding the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, you are encouraged to visit the official College Board CSS Profile website.
College Visits & Events
Admissions representatives from many colleges, universities and technical schools will visit your high school, primarily in the fall season. Students are encouraged to meet with these representatives by signing up in advance via Naviance using the steps below.
Login to Naviance
- Go to Colleges > Research Colleges > College Visits or go to Colleges Home and find the College Visits card.
- Click Sign Up to sign up
- Click the Sign Me Up button
National Scholarship Resources
Types of Scholarships
- Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant's extracurricular activities and community service record.
- Need-based: In the United States, these awards are based on the student and family's financial record and require applicants to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify if the scholarship is a federal award. The CSS/Financial Aid Profile, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, is an application distributed by the College Board allowing college students to apply for financial aid. It is primarily designed to give private member institutions of the College Board a close look into the finances of a student and family. It is much more detailed than the FAFSA, but is not used by all colleges. For a list of colleges that participate in the CSS PROFILE, please visit College Board: CSS Profile
- Student-specific: These are scholarships where applicants must initially qualify by gender, race, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors.
- Career-specific: These are scholarships a college or university awards to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study.
- College-specific: College-specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants.
Scholarship Tools & Resources
While there are several online tools and resources to find scholarships, we recommend first checking the financial aid and/or scholarship section of a college website to make sure you are being reviewed for every applicable scholarship at the school. Some colleges will automatically review students for scholarship opportunities when they apply - others may require you to apply separately. Make sure to exhaust every scholarship opportunity at your prospective colleges instead of relying on outside scholarships to supplement tuition as these tend to be open to students nation-wide, and therefore are more competitive.
- Naviance - log into your Naviance account, click on Colleges, and select Scholarships and Money from drop-down menu.
- College Board
- College Resource Network
- College Scholarships.org
- Super College.com
- Scholarship Hunter
- Scholarship America
Net Price Calculator
Net price calculators are available on a college’s or university’s website and allow prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students like them paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account. Learn more about this tool by visiting US Dept Of Education: Net Price Calculator
24-Hour Crisis Support
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call, text or chat 988
Valley Creek Crisis Intervention
Are you afraid someone you know may hurt themselves? Submit an anonymous tip and school officials and law enforcement (as necessary) will immediately respond.
CHESTER COUNTY CHILD & ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
In School Support
While we continue to encourage students to tell a trusted adult about any concerns, the new and existing anonymous tip lines provide additional options for reporting concerns.
Resources & Parent Trainings
Please visit our YouTube channel for past parent trainings and speaker series.