8th Grade Academy

Explaining the normal Identification process for 8th Grade Academy:

Identification for 8th Grade Academy: The 8th Grade Academy program is designed for students who are academically prepared to accelerate their learning by one grade in three subjectsAttendance/Acceptance is limited.  Every 7th grade student is screened for the 8th grade Academy program.   The middle school intervention teams and the Academy intervention team work collaboratively and carefully to consider students individually to help ensure placement in this program for students who are most discrepant from their peers. These criteria include:

  • Performance on standardized assessments (Iowa Assessments, etc.) in reading and mathematics
  • Grades in core subject areas
  • Placement in mathematics
  • Teacher input

Students in the 8th Grade Academy take three academic courses at the high school level.  All students must take English.  Students then study two additional subjects with classes in mathematics, science, and/or social studies available. Students may elect to receive high school credit upon successful completion of each course. Course options for 8th grade students are:

  • English: Accelerated Language and Literature I (equivalent to English I)
  • Mathematics*:  Academy Math 8,  Algebra I,  Radically Accelerated I, Geometry
  • Science: Conceptual Physics & Environmental Science (one semester of each class will prepare students for Accelerated Chemistry and Accelerated Biology in 9th grade)
  • Social Studies: Accelerated Early US History and US Government^

*A placement exam will be given to determine mathematics course placement.

^This course satisfies the State of Iowa and Des Moines Public Schools’ graduation requirement for US Government.

High School Credit Options for 8th grade students:  8th grade students who earn a semester grade of A or B in many Academy classes will automatically get high school credit.  However, there are times when a student does not want to get credit for a B and times when a students with a C wants the credit.  Parents have 2 weeks after semester grades are posted to decide if they want an exception to our automatic policy.


Interesting Fact: 38% of 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 hone 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 and growth.  The middle school intervention teams and the Academy Intervention team are working collaboratively and carefully considering students individually for placement in this program for students who are discrepant from their peers.  Not attending Academy in 8th grade does not rule out the option to attend later.