An academy has a well-defined design within the high school, reflecting its status as a small learning community.
- Cross-grade articulation
The academy incorporates at least a two, three, or an overall four-year experience, ending in the senior year with articulation in its teacher team, curriculum, and instruction across grade levels. An introduction to the academy’s encompassing career exploration precedes the academy experience. The academy has a clear program of study that includes a definitive course sequence.
- Student selection
Entry into the academy is voluntary and accessible to every student. The recruitment/selection process is written and widely available. New students are provided with orientation to the academy based upon their own talents, aspirations and interests. Parents or guardians participate in this process and approve of the choice made by their student. Academy enrollment reflects the general high school population, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
- Cohort scheduling
Academy classes consist of academy students who take a series of classes together each year. The academy students take at least two courses per grade level as a cohort with at least 80% of the enrollment in these courses academy students.
- Physical space
Where possible, both academic and career and technical education (CTE) academy classrooms are near each other in the high school building. Rooms allow for flexible configurations required by project-based learning.
- Small size, supportive atmosphere
The academy maintains personalization through limited size, academy staff teamwork (including counselors, librarian/media specialists, academy-based administrators, and other support staff), and a supportive atmosphere.
- Academy design planning
There is ample opportunity for the academy staff, advisory board, and others to plan the academy together. The ideal time would be during the school day.