Accelerated Learning Academy
The SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy meets the educational aspirations of students in grades 3-8, who will thrive in an environment with a self-directed and inter-disciplinary model of instruction. Students in grades 3-5 are in a multi-age classroom at the St. Mary Elementary Campus and students in grades 6-8 are at St. Mary Catholic Middle School.
The program is open to students who apply, complete the assessment process and are admitted into the program. Potential participants will have demonstrated the ability to set and work towards goals and to take responsibility for their learning by working independently. Invitations for admission are based upon standardized assessment results and the successful completion of prior classroom projects.
The SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy offers specialized instruction for high ability students in grades 3-8. Students work at a higher pace while digging deeper into the content to gain greater knowledge and depth. SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy students:
- Have higher abstract logical reasoning skills
- Manipulate information about a topic in order to draw unique inferences
- Thrive on complexity in the curriculum
- Engage intellectually and have unique, original ideas
- Flourish in a challenging environment led by a certified gifted and talented teacher
The program is open to students who apply, complete the assessment process, and are admitted into the program. Potential participants will have demonstrated the ability to set and work toward goals and to work independently on tasks at hand. Invitations for admission are based upon standardized assessment results, prior completion of classroom projects, and administrator recommendation.
- Students will complete the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) on the first day of testing. Students who meet the CogAT established criteria will be invited to complete the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) on the second day of testing.
- Scores will be reviewed and assessed by the evaluation team using established criteria to determine program eligibility. The Accelerated Learning Academy coordinator/teacher is not part of the review process, and students’ names are removed from the tests for evaluation.
- Applications that meet the eligibility requirements are ranked within four tiers through a process that combines achievement and ability scores.
- Families will then be notified on about their child’s scores and if they are accepted into the program. If they are accepted into the program, families will need to fill out a registration form to be signed up for the Accelerated Learning Academy the following school year.
- Students do not need to retest for the program every year, however, 5th grade Accelerated Learning Academy students do need to retest before being admitted to the program in middle school.
Accelerated Learning Academy School Day
The Accelerated Learning Academy’s curriculum meets and exceeds diocesan expectations, and focuses on specialized instruction in certain subject areas. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning styles including:
- Independent study
- Inquiry-based learning
- Project-based learning
- Service-learning projects
- Small-group work
Students will receive specialized instruction:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Liturgies and sacraments
- Physical Education
Students integrate with their age peers at St. Mary Elementary for:
- Vocal/instrumental music
- Faith-building activities
- Lunch and recess
- Field trips
- Specialized instruction n Social Studies and Language Arts
- Annual capstone project connected to the community
- Pre-ACT testing in 8th grade
- Published writing
- Art and music exhibitions