Academy model good move for expanded SHS

Foreign exchange students in the United States often remark about the differences in education in their home country with what they find here. One difference is that American students take basic core classes through their senior year, then branch off to a more specialized education in college or technical school. In some other countries, students take classes in their latter high school-age years that match their abilities or career interests.

Things are changing in the U.S., and now Shakopee. Plans for the soon-to-be expanded Shakopee High School is implementation of the so-called “academy model.” For Shakopee students, that will mean elective courses will be split into six main areas of interest, or six academies. Included are science and technology, engineering and manufacturing, arts and communication, business and entrepreneurship, human services, and health sciences. (The seventh will be a freshman academy, designed to help ninth-graders with the transition to high school and serve as a home base for them until they choose an interest-based academy of their own.)

Shakopee High students are required to take a certain number of required classes that focus on core academic subjects like math, science, English/reading and social studies. Students also have a certain number of elective courses available to them that allow for exploration into specific interest areas. Under the academy model, students will have a more defined opportunity to explore academic areas of interest prior to graduation so that they might discover whether that academic direction is right for them after high school — or just as important, whether that academic path is not right for them. Students are also likely to take classes in their interest area with the same teacher more than once, which will help her or him develop an academic relationship with an instructor. Not only that, students in academy models will often be together with like-minded students in their academic block, which should enhance their learning experience.


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