The UT Tyler University Academy (UTTUA) is a K-12 university charter public school. The charter was approved by the State Board of Education in 2012. The UTTUA opened locations at each of the UT Tyler Campuses in the same year:

  • University of Texas Tyler (grades K-12)
  • University of Texas Tyler-Longview (Grades 1-12)
  • University of Texas Tyler-Palestine (Grades K-12 effective Fall 2019)


The UT Tyler Innovation Academy seeks to be a national model for STEM education innovation as a STEM Academy and University Laboratory School.


The mission of the UT Tyler University Academy is to develop students who leave school STEM College and Career Ready. STEM College Ready indicates students are prepared to enroll in a STEM Major at a university. Typically this means they are calculus ready upon graduation or have completed calculus in high school.

STEM Academy

The UTTUA’s guiding document is the Texas STEM (T-STEM) Academy Blueprint. It is our goal to serve as a demonstration site for schools seeking to develop STEM Schools. The UTTUA was one of the first schools in Texas to apply the T-STEM blueprint to the elementary grades.

The UTTUA specializes in STEM Education and offers a STEM Endorsement with an Engineering focus, a Public Service Endorsement with a Biomedical focus and a Multidisciplinary Endorsement.

All students are expected to graduate on the Distinguished Academic Plan and complete 15-42+ hours of university credit. Students need to be Algebra ready by 8th grade and meet the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) assessment by the beginning of the sophomore year of high school to maximize the number of university credits earned while enrolled in high school.

Students can receive additional support to meet TSI requirements.

Project Lead the Way

The University of Texas at Tyler is the provider of Project Lead The Way (PLTW) for the state of Texas. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. Through world-class K-12 curriculum, PLTW helps students develop the skills needed to succeed in the global economy. The academy offers the following PLTW STEM programs currently:

PLTW Launch is our program for third through fifth grades. Students become problem solvers using structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking.

PLTW Gateway provides engineering and biomedical science curriculum for middle school students that challenges, inspires, and offers schools variety and flexibility. Students get rigorous and relevant experiences through activity-, project-, and problem-based learning. They use industry-leading technology to solve problems while gaining skills in communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, and creativity.

PLTW Engineering is our high school engineering program. It is about applying engineering, science, math, and technology to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context. Students focus on the process of defining and solving a problem. They learn how to apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to make the world a better place through innovation.

Laboratory School

The UTTUA serves as a laboratory school for the UT Tyler College of Education and Psychology. The goals of the lab school include:

  • Conduct high-quality research on STEM teaching and learning.
  • Develop innovations through research-based enhancements to current practice.
  • Collaborate with researchers at other institutions, nationally and internationally, to conduct investigations into STEM learning.
  • Strengthen teacher preparation and professional development by connecting the Lab School closely to preservice and inservice training.
  • Disseminate research results.
  • Serve the UT System as a Core Research Facility for STEM Education.

UTTUA administrators and faculty work closely with UT Tyler Educator Preparation Programs. The UT Tyler UTeach STEM teacher preparation program (MS/HS) is integrated into the academy. UTeach students complete their Project Based Instruction coursework and complete significant clinical hours at the academy. Some UTeach Students have the opportunity to complete their Apprentice Teaching at the UTTUA. In addition, students preparing to become elementary teachers, special educators, reading specialists, school administrators, and counselors may also be involved at the UTTUA.

University Charter Schools

According to Texas Education Code University charters:

  • Must include innovative teaching methods;
    • The UTTUA utilizes Project and Problem-based Instruction (PBL), incorporating blended learning and technology enhanced teaching methods.
  • Must be implemented under the direct supervision of a member of the teaching or research faculty of the public senior college or university;
    • The UTTUA curriculum is supervised by the Roosth Chair in Education, Dr. Michael Odell appointed the College of Education and Psychology and the College of Engineering in cooperation with the UTTUA Faculty Advisor, Dr. Wesley Hickey from the College of Education and Psychology.
  • Must be designed to meet specific goals described in the charter, including improving student performance, and each aspect of the program must be directed toward the attainment of the goals;
    • The UTTUA is designed to develop STEM College and Career Ready students.
  • Must be measured using specific, objective standards set forth in the charter, including assessment methods and a time frame; and
    • The UTTUA is data-driven. The curriculum is aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEA) as well as the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (THECB).
    • The UTTUA utilizes assessments that objectively measure achievement, student growth, college readiness, and 21st Century Skills needed in the work-place.
  • Financial operations of the university charter school must be supervised by the business office of the public university.
    • The UTTUA financial operations are handled by the Office of Business Affairs and the Office of Research and Technology Transfer at UT Tyler.

An independent audit is conducted annually.