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SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy to Expand to Middle School in 2021-22 School Year

Posted on March 2, 2021 by
Posted in General
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St. Mary Catholic Schools is expanding the SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy, a program for gifted and talented students, into middle school in the 2021-2022 school year.

The SMCS Accelerated Learning Academy, which was started in 2017 at SMCS – St. Mary Elementary School for grades 3-5, provides high ability students the opportunity to work at a higher pace while digging deeper into content to gain greater knowledge and depth. The program’s significant growth and success at the elementary school level, as well as the desire to provide additional educational opportunities for middle school students, inspired the decision to expand the Accelerated Learning Academy to St. Mary Catholic Middle School (SMCMS) for grades 6-8 beginning in fall 2021.

“SMCS is committed to meeting the academic needs of all students. Bringing the Accelerated Learning Academy to St. Mary Catholic Middle School will allow our higher achieving students with opportunities to set and work toward their academic goals,” SMCMS Principal Jill Ahles said. “We are very pleased with students’ success in the Accelerated Learning Academy during elementary school and can now foster that success during their time in middle school.”

Students in the middle school program will receive specialized instruction in social studies and language arts; complete a capstone project connected to the community; participate in Pre-ACT testing in 8th grade; publish writing; participate in art and music exhibitions; and experience other enhanced educational opportunities. The program is led by a certified gifted and talented teacher, and students are set up to thrive in its challenging environment with more complex curriculum offerings.

The program is open to students who apply, complete the assessment process and are admitted. Potential participants will have demonstrated the ability to set and work toward goals and to work independently. Invitations for admission are based upon standardized assessment results, prior completion of classroom projects and administrator recommendation.

The testing process for interested students include completion of the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) on Monday, March 22. Students who meet the CogAT established criteria will be invited to complete the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) on Friday, April 30. Both assessments will be completed virtually for the 2021-2022 school year. Students who are interested in applying and testing for the 2021-2022 SMCMS Accelerated Learning Academy must request to test by March 12 here.

SMCMS Principal Jill Ahles may be contacted for questions about the Accelerated Learning Academy or read more here