Frequently Asked Questions


    What are the Academies of Shakopee?
    The Academies of Shakopee are small learning communities of students and teachers who are organized around areas of interest. Students will have the opportunity to connect with others who have similar aspirations and with teachers who can make meaningful connections to their plans for the future. The Academies of Shakopee will be implemented in the fall of 2018 when the expanded high school opens. 
    How will the Academies of Shakopee work? 
    In 9th grade, students will enter the Freshman Academy, which will provide the necessary skills to transition to the high school and provide additional time to explore courses offered by the six academies. Students will spend time discovering their own unique interests. They will then select a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. While students will take courses in their home academy for a portion of their day, they will still be able to take courses in other areas of interest. 
    When will the Academies of Shakopee be implemented?
    The Academies of Shakopee be will implemented in the fall 2018 when the expanded high school opens. 
    Why the academy model?
    In our rapidly changing 21st century world, students need to be more prepared than ever in order to be successful after high school. Recognizing this, Shakopee Public Schools embarked on a multi-year strategic plan in 2014 to ensure all of our students are college and career ready. We have implemented a systems approach to enhance academic programs at all levels: Elementary, middle and high school. The academies model will have several benefits for our students including a seamless transition into college and career, students will have the opportunity to dig deeper into one program of study by interest (3-course sequence) as well as opportunities for job shadowing, apprenticeships, internships, and authentic projects with business and community partners. 
    What is Ford (NGL) Next Generation Learning? What is their role in the academies?

    Ford NGL is a national network of academy schools. The schools in the Ford NGL network infuse the high expectations and academic rigor of college preparatory academic programs with the real-world relevance and rigor of career and technical education (CTE).  Ford NGL uses the power of workplace relevance and business relationships to excite young people about education and to prepare them for college, careers and life. The network provides services to help schools go from design, planning, implementation, and future study visits of the academy model. We will customize this process to meet the unique needs of our community. As part of the Ford NGL network, our district will likely generate revenue from future study visits. Districts around the country will visit Shakopee to help them implement the academies in their schools, which could result in an economic boost for the entire city as visitors across the country will likely frequent businesses in our community.

    What are the six academies?
    Arts & Communications fosters creativity, innovation and expression to ensure well-rounded individuals who can apply those skills in a number of fields. Career fields include the performing arts, visual arts, design, communications, and publishing. 

    Business & Entrepreneurship offers students industry relevant experiences that will allow students creative platforms to produce ideas and products that propel the growth of local, state, national, and the global economy. Career fields include marketing, sales, finance, hospitality & tourism, management, and entrepreneurship.

    Engineering & Manufacturing is a high tech, high skill, high demand area that will help students generate their own jobs and opportunities. Career fields include manufacturing, robotics, transportation, design, electronics, architecture, construction, and engineering. 

    Health Science education will provide students with the knowledge and skills to pursue this high demand industry. Health Science career fields include biomedical science, exercise science, health & wellness, nutrition, and healthcare fields.

    Human Services will give students the ability to apply their course work across all academic disciplines. Human Services courses benefit both the community and students while encouraging students to look beyond themselves to serve others. Career fields include human development, psychology, education, legal fields, law enforcement, and public services. 

    Science & Technology promotes students to be leaders in the construction and development of dynamic and ever-changing industries. The education will reflect the modern needs of our global society and prepare our students to successfully utilize skills that will contribute to the betterment of our community. Career fields include investigative science, mathematics, applied science & technology, computer science, and human & natural management.

    What is the Freshman Academy?
    Freshman Academy is for 9th grade students who will spend time discovering their own unique interests and then chose a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. The Freshman Academy will provide additional time to explore courses offered by the six academies.
    Can my student change academies or will they be "stuck" in an academy they don't want to be in?
    Our goal is not to have students feel "stuck." Students who believe they are in the wrong academy or find out that their passion lies in another academy will have the opportunity to move to another academy. However, the district's administration and high school leadership team is working to sort out details like: the number of times a student can switch academies, when they can switch academies, etc. The district will be sure to communicate when those details are decided.
    What are the benefits of smaller learning communities?

    Research shows smaller learning communities lead to improved attendance, reduced behavior issues, increased sense of belonging for students, increased graduation rates, and achievement gains for students.

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    What is Shakopee's academy model?

    The district’s academy model will include six career academies within one high school. We will also have one Freshman Academy for incoming 9th graders. Students will select an academy to enter as a sophomore. Each academy will have its own physical location in the building. The 335,000-foot building expansion has been customized to meet the needs of each academy. Each Academy Hub (two academies) will have its own administrative and instructional team.

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    What types of innovative instruction will be happening within the academies?

    Types of student experiences include inquiry learning, internship opportunities, individualized learning plans and personalized learning, 1:1 technology integration, authentic learning experiences (real world connections!), teachers learning from and planning with industry experts, and programs of study: In-depth sequence of courses.

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    What is the typical adminstrative support structure in the academy model?

    The academy model does not require a particular administrative support model. However, typically, administrators and counselors are assigned to a hub (two academies). This provides targeted support for the team of teachers within an academy. We have identified one additional assistant principal for the 9th grade. Due to an additional 600+ students in the building, this addition would have occurred whether implementing a traditional model or an academy model. The school board has not approved a final staffing model for the 2018-19 school year. They will take up this action as part of the budget setting process this year.

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    What are some of the academic similarities and differences between a traditional high school and an academy model?


    Traditional Model

    Academy Model

    School Capacity: 3,200 students 

    School Capacity: 3,200 students (placed into smaller learning communities)

    Grades 9-12

    Grades 9-12

    Classrooms grouped by department (math, science, etc)

    Classrooms grouped by interests/academy 


    Core classes based on state standards


    Core classes based on state standards (infused with the flavor of the academy to increase student engagement)

    Many AP/CIS courses available 

    Many AP/CIS courses available 

    Random selection of elective courses

    Elective courses tied to career pathways to create connections

    Fine Arts and World Language options

    Fine Arts and World Language options

    Less likely to have a consistent teacher for multiple semesters or one year 

    Highly likely to have a consistent teacher for multiple semesters or multiple years

    Little or no community or business engagement in development of courses or experiences for students

    High levels of community and business engagement in development of courses and experiences for students

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    What will our community and business engagement look like in the academies?

    A critical aspect of this work is the involvement of community and business partners in developing authentic projects, course work, internships, apprenticeships, job shadows, etc. A community coordinator is required to help arrange these experiences for students. This position will play a key role in helping to generate revenue from grants and study visits. The community coordinator will also work with businesses to create academy partnerships.

    The Academies of Shakopee: My Place. My Path. My Future.