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 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 was implemented in the fall of 2018, when the expanded high school opened. 
    How do the Academies of Shakopee work? 
    In 9th grade, students enter the Freshman Academy, which provides the necessary skills to transition to the high school and provides additional time to explore courses offered by the six academies. Students spend time discovering their own unique interests. They then select a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. While students take courses in their home academy for a portion of their day, they are still be able to take courses in other areas of interest. 
    In the fall of 2019, Shakopee High School went to a block schedule. Students have a 4-period schedule. Classroom time increased from 45 minutes on the 7-period schedule to 86 minutes per period. Student have the opportunity to dive deeper into content and engage in more authentic learning. New graduation requirements are being phased in for each graduating class.
    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 visit Shakopee to help them implement the academies in their schools.

    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 provides 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 gives 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 to spend time discovering their own unique interests and then chose a home academy for their sophomore through senior year. The Freshman Academy provides 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?

    During the registration process, 9th grade students will select a career academy for their 10th grade year and beyond. We understand that interests can change throughout the course of a high school career. At the end of 10th grade, students will have an opportunity to explore another academy. It will become more difficult to switch academies after 10th grade due to the graduation requirement of completing a program of study (3 course sequence) within an academy. Regardless of academy placement, students are always able to take elective courses outside of the home academy.

    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 includes six career academies within one high school. We also have one Freshman Academy for incoming 9th graders. Students will select an academy to enter as a sophomore. Each academy has 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) has its own administrative and instructional team.

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    What type of innovative instruction is happening within the academies?

    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 at Shakopee High School is staffed with one academy principal for two career academies and an academy principal for the 9th grade academy. There are also counselors and other staff that are assigned to particular academies. A team of teachers assigned to each academy also provides targeted support for students.  

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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 does 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. To learn more about how to get involved contact Elizabeth Duehr.

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