DMPS: The District of Choice
Not many cities offer more within the bounds of one school district than Des Moines does.
According to Superintendent Dr. Nancy Sebring, “The concept of offering a variety of school choices ties nicely with the work we are doing with curriculum. Our curriculum alignment with the Iowa Core ensures that we have the same high expectations for all students, but teachers have the autonomy as to how to deliver the curriculum to best meet the needs of the students they work with. The same is true for the choice schools in Des Moines. We have the same graduate ends for all students, but a variety of pathways that students can arrive at these ends.”
Those pathways include:
Central Academy, according to the renowned Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, “is in a class by itself” as a college preparatory school.
Central Campus offers career and technical training that is rare at the high school level. Examples of opportunities not typically available to public school students include the aviation, graphic design, broadcasting, culinary arts and marine biology facilities, all of which take instruction out of the classroom and textbook and into the hands-on real world.
Phillips and Jefferson Traditional Schools both have dress codes and feature an increased emphasis on basic academic skills, even as they also stress personal respect, responsibility and discipline as cornerstones of a place where academic achievement can be maximized. Phillips is one of only two schools in Iowa that employ the Core Knowledge Sequence, a curriculum designed to extend elementary teaching of basic skills by 20 percent.
The district’s four continuous calendar elementary schools are in session the same number of days per school year as the ones that take the customary break in the summer months, but their breaks are spread more evenly across the seasons. The option of continuous calendars enhances retention of material for some students and also has logistical advantages for some parents.
DMPS is the only district in the state that offers International Baccalaureate programming and now boasts schools authorized as IB providers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. DMPS also features Iowa’s only public Montessori school at Cowles.
There is something for every student somewhere in DMPS. And there is quite a lot to choose from in a catalogue comprised of 60+ schools staffed by 3,000+ teachers serving 32,000+ students.
So go ahead and be choosy!