8th Grade Academy

8th Academy Teams LogoWHAT IS 8TH GRADE ACADEMY?

8th Grade Academy provides targeted and intensive academic intervention through accelerated and/or advanced coursework while also developing future ready skills. Students from all middle schools who show discrepant academic needs beyond grade level peers are invited to attend this program at Central Academy after a throrough, district wide identification process.

8th Grade Academy students take three academic courses at the high school level. Accelerated English/Language Arts (equivalent to English I) is required along with two of the following advanced and/or accelerated core subject areas. 

  1. Mathematics:  Academy Math 8,  Algebra I,  Radically Accelerated I, Geometry
    • For students who request math, an exam may be given to determine course placement.
  2. Science: Conceptual Physics & Environmental Science
    • This class will prepare students for Accelerated Chemistry and Accelerated Biology in 9th grade.
  3. Social Studies: Accelerated Early US History and US Government
    • This course satisfies the State of Iowa and Des Moines Public Schools’ graduation requirement for US Government.

8th grade students who earn a semester grade of A or B in many Academy classes will automatically get high school credit unless parents/guardians indicate within 2 weeks after semester grades are posted that they want an exception to our automatic policy.


The identification process begins in 7th grade when every student in the district is screened using the following quantitative and qualitative data to determine outliers when compared to grade level peers. Once schools recommend students whose academic needs would best be met at 8th Academy, invitation letters are sent to families. Participation in Prep Academy as a 7th grader does not guarantee admission to Central Academy as an 8th grader. Prep Academy students must meet the same criteria for entrance as other incoming 8th grade students.

  • Standardized assessment scores  
  • In-class performance as measured through SRG 
  • Input from English Language Arts, math, science, and social studies teachers on a behavioral checklist  


About 1/3 of our current 10th grade students in the Academy’s Gifted Core Pathway did not attend as 8th graders. Children mature and develop at different rates. Some students need an extra year at a normal pace to refine skills and develop talents so that they are genuinely ready to accelerate. Putting a student in an accelerated class too soon can damage the student’s skill development, growth, and academic identity. The middle school intervention teams and the Academy Intervention team work collaboratively and carefully as they consider students individually for placement in this program.  Not attending Academy in 8th grade does not rule out the option to attend later.


For 8th Academy related questions, you may reach out to either of the following staff members.

¿Preguntas? Se puede hablar a 515-242-8543 o suleyma.reyes@dmschools.org.