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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale School District prepares to add seventh grade | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

"School officials have a short window to let seventh-graders know they can enroll in the Don Tyson School of Innovation for the coming school year" inform Brenda Bernet, Washington County Education Reporter. 

Construction workers put the finishing touches on a new wing Dec. 15 at the Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale. 

A meeting for parents of seventh-graders who are interested in enrolling in the charter school is scheduled tonight at the school on Hylton Road.

"We're just trying to serve children and families," Superintendent Jim Rollins told the School Board recently. "We're providing our families a choice at an earlier level."

The School of Innovation opened in 2014-15 and last school year had 500 students in the eighth through 10th grades.

School District officials want to have 1,000 students in the eighth through 12th grades by the 2018-19 school year. They planned to add seventh-graders that same year, said Megan Slocum, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

But parents inquiring about enrolling younger children pushed district officials to get permission from the State Board of Education to add seventh-graders this fall, Slocum said.

"We have kids who are ready for something different," Slocum said. "It's our job to provide it." 

Slocum anticipates space for 25 to 100 seventh-graders, and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, she said.

The program best suits students who are creative and like hands-on learning experiences, Slocum said. The program is designed for students to develop skills to self-direct their learning, persevere, communicate, work with their peers and to be innovative, she said.

Students also follow a personalized learning plan and are expected to work at the teacher's pace or better, she said. Multiple classes meet in large open spaces. Students work in groups to finish projects. Students complete courses based on "competency," or mastering content and demonstrating knowledge.

Seventh-graders will have classes in a pod within the building, Slocum said. 

Schools in different parts of the country are offering "competency-based" education, including down to kindergarten, said Denise Airola, director of the Office of Innovation for Education at the University of Arkansas. Students in those types of programs have to develop skills to succeed, including self-management and goal-setting.

Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette