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Aquinas Program

The SMCS Aquinas Program, located within the St. Mary Elementary Campus of St. Mary Catholic Schools, meets the educational aspirations of students in grades 3-5, who will thrive in an environment with a self-directed and inter-disciplinary model of instruction. The SMCS Aquinas Program takes place in a multi-age classroom, and is led by a teacher who is certified in gifted-and-talented education.

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 Aquinas Program offers specialized instruction for high ability students in grades 3-5. Students work at a higher pace while digging deeper into the content to gain greater knowledge and depth. SMCS Aquinas 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.

Evaluation Process

  • The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) computer based assessmentsare administered by the Aquinas Program Coordinator/Teacher.
  • Scores will be reviewed and assessed by the evaluation team using established criteria to determine program eligibility. The Aquinas Program 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 Aquinas Class the following school year.
  • Students do not need to retest for the program every year.

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2019-2020 Aquinas Program School Day

The Aquinas Program’s curriculum meets and exceeds diocesan expectations, and focuses on specialized instruction in core areas including:

  • Language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science (includes Project Lead the Way modules)
  • Social Studies
  • Art
  • Library

Students integrate with their age peers at St. Mary Elementary for specials and activities including:

  • Faith-building activities, liturgies, and sacraments
  • Vocal
  • World languages
  • Lunch and recess
  • Band (all students, including third graders in the Aquinas Program, are eligible)

Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning styles including:

  • Field trips
  • Independent study
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Learning contracts
  • Project-based learning
  • Service-learning projects
  • Small-group work