Innovations at USD 475

HD Karns Building – Innovations Academy – 7th and 8th Grade Magnet Program

USD 475 continually strives to provide students with access to the best education.  Superintendent, Dr. Reginald Eggleston, knows that some students need a more individual approach to learning, and has implemented a new program just for these students.

This year, USD 475 started offering an alternative program for 7th and 8th grade students to help prepare them for entering high school.  The Eighth Grade Magnet Program, based at H.D. Karns Innovations Academy, offers an alternative program for 7th and 8th grade students that are at-risk of falling behind in academics.  It is a new program in the district this year, and just 4 months into the program, it is showing many signs of success for both students and teachers. 

Dr. Eggleston has set a goal of a 90% graduation rate in 5 years, and he knows that the success of that goal depends on the success of today’s middle school students.  “Today’s seventh graders will be graduating in 5 years.  If we don’t help them now, it will be too late.”

The district invited a group of students to participate in the program at the end of last school year, based on many factors.

The Eighth Grade Magnet Program now hosts students, in 7th and 8th grade, and places a strong focus on academics.  Students enjoy smaller class sizes, project-based learning, and an ever-changing array of lessons based on real-world concepts.

Students work individually within the modules and enjoy learning at their own pace, but they still benefit from the support of a teacher that provides group lessons and additional support, when needed. 

Serenity is working on melting plastics into molds.

Serenity, an 8th grade student in the program, is working on the plastics and polymers module.  She was melting plastic beads and pressing the plastics into molds.  “The Earthquakes module was my favorite.  I like all the different experiments we get to do,” she says. 

Additional learning modules include forensic math, astronomy, nuclear energy, math behind your meals, home makeovers, and population perspectives.  By pairing concepts with real life applications, students can learn how the concepts apply in daily life, and the hands-on activities develop knowledge and skills to prepare them for high school, and beyond.

One teacher in the program noted that it was rewarding and fun to participate in the modules with the students and has noticed an improvement in pre-test and post-test scores since the program started this school year.  “We were seeing 1 or 2 out of 10 correct on pre-tests in the beginning, but now we are seeing 10 out of 10, in many cases.”

Dr. Eggleston hopes to expand the program to even more students. The program currently has the capacity for 88 students, and he hopes to have more spaces available in coming years.  “We plan to include more electives and extracurricular activities in the future,” he says.

If you would like more information about The Eighth Grade Magnet Program or Innovations Academy, please call or visit the HD Karns building.