Academy Newsletter September 2021

Dear Central Academy Students and Families,


In late September we typically notice that students begin to worry about grades, even though grades are not issued until January and teachers are just beginning to collect and document evidence of student learning.   It is still very early in the semester, but to see the data entered so far, click on “Details” for the class in the Infinite Campus > grades.

We are also noticing across our community questions about what NM, PT, AT, and ET mean. We have some resources that you might find helpful:

Central Academy wrote a Summary of Scoring by Target which explicitly describes how to read teacher’s grade books (with pictures from Academy grade books) across departments.  There are also embedded YouTube links to discussions on these topics.

Just before the pandemic, DMPS also published this SRG Student Handbook.  It describes the rationale for Standard Referenced Grading practices and the big ideas in our grading philosophy.

Finally, Central Academy classes incorporate multiple opportunities for students to provide evidence of their learning by incorporating those opportunities into new learning.  Instead of going back to redo, retake, or reassess– which can slow down the learning and feed toxic perfectionism– we give students multiple chances to demonstrate skill on previous learning within new assignments going forward.  Three years ago, we created a webinar series on how this works. Find those Webinar videos HERE.


REMINDER: DMPS will have staff development sessions on Friday, so there will be no classes in Des Moines Public Schools tomorrow.


We will not be notifying students and families when a student in their class tests positive for Covid.  While I am disappointed in this decision, parents of secondary students were complaining of the volume of notifications they were receiving– one from each teacher– when there was only one case.

The health and safety of our students is a priority.  So far, Central Academy has been spared a large outbreak with less than five cases among our 1,500 students to date. But our district school nurses are noticing increasing breakthrough cases among vaccinated people. We are keeping a close eye on it.

Students have been fantastic about protecting each other by wearing masks and giving each other space.  I also deeply appreciate students and staff who stay home when they are not feeling well.  Teachers will continue to support students who are ill by utilizing Canvas to post information, assignments, feedback, as well as alternative and/or supplementary resources as needed.


Please bring your laptops to class.  Many of your assignments, explanations, resources, and assessments/tests are online.  Not having a laptop can be problematic.  If your school issued laptop is under repair, ask if your school can give you a loaner if the repair will take several days. Central Academy was only issued enough laptops for our Out of District students who do not have a DMPS home school.  Unfortunately, we do not have extra computers at Academy.


October 8 from 7:30 – 10:30 AM, Polk County is offering a FLU vaccination clinic for all ages at Central Campus, our sister program located next door.  People under age 18 must be with a parent or guardian.  You must sign up in advance. This link will take you to the full slate of clinics offered in Polk County.  The one at Central Campus is on page 2.


High School Students only:  Advanced Placement exam orders are due November 5 with a $40 deposit for each exam.  Students who qualify for textbook fee waivers do not have to pay the deposit because of a grant from the United Way that covers the cost of exams if they are enrolled in the AP class.   Find out more about AP Exam ordering here:

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