Henrico County Public Schools is reimagining middle schools.

Young Scholar Academies

HCPS is considering establishing middle-school specialty centers – called Young Scholar Academies – to enable students in grades 6-8 to concentrate in a particular academic area. The proposed programs would add more options to Henrico Schools’ three existing middle school International Baccalaureate programs.

The programs would offer a theme or focus designed to give middle school students an opportunity to explore a special interest, gift, talent or skill. The centers would aim to provide more high-quality options for students with diverse learning needs.

Latest News

Board hears Jan. 12 update on academies, redistricting

At the School Board’s Jan. 8 work session, members heard the latest on the possible establishment of Young Scholar Academies within HCPS. The update included a PowerPoint presentation.

Three planned focus groups will gather more information and insight about what Henrico students, families and teachers think about Young Scholar Academies. Members of the HCPS Department of Research and Planning hope to learn:

– Insights into participants’ interest in the academies.
– Participants’ visions of the program.
– Questions the school division needs to address as it moves forward.
– Whether participants prefer the concept of having academies at one or two schools in Henrico County, or whether they would like to see a more integrated approach that would involve all HCPS middle schools.

The presentation also addressed the need for middle school redistricting, how that might work with Young Scholar Academies, and the pros and cons of adopting new district boundaries for the 2017-18 school year vs. the 2018-19 school year.

Among the next steps in the process:
– Conduct and analyze focus group interviews.
– Plan community input sessions.
– Continue to develop an FAQ document addressing questions about Young Scholar Academies.

Board hears Dec. 8 update on survey, academy options

At its Dec. 8 work session, the School Board heard an update and saw a PowerPoint presentation on the status of the middle school transformation process.

The update included the results of the survey that asked families about middle school changes. There were 4,047 responses, 61 percent of which were from parents or guardians of elementary school students. Some survey results:Brookland (STEAM) and Wilder (talented and gifted) are two locations being considered for the middle-school young scholar academies. In answer to transportation concerns, both schools are centrally located, have easy access to I-295 and align with HCPS transportation logistics. Some survey results:

The most popular option for a possible middle school academy (chosen by 56 percent) was a focus on STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math/Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

– The second most popular option (selected by 42 percent) was a focus on gifted and talented education.
– Respondents cited project-based learning, advanced academics and teachers with specialized training as reasons for their interest in young scholar academies.
– Respondents cited distance from home, transportation around after-school activities and perceptions of the host school as reasons they might not participate.
– Comments generally supportive of the concept made up 46 percent of responses. Comments unsupportive of the concept comprised 43 percent of responses.

HCPS staff members are considering the results of the survey and the concerns expressed by respondents.

The presentation also discussed how the young scholar academies might fit into a larger strategy for middle school redistricting.

What’s next? HCPS staff members will now:

– Visit school divisions with similar academies.
– Conduct focus groups in January with teachers and parents representing all of Henrico’s magisterial districts.
– Seek approval of academy locations, themes and redistricting goals in early 2017.
– Work with a planning consultant to draft some possible redistricting ideas to be presented to the Board in February.
– Communicate in coming months with Henrico families and other stakeholders about how the redistricting process works.
– Develop a marketing plan in the spring to recruit students with an interest in the academies.
– Research and write curricula in summer and fall for selected programs.

Want to know more about the transformation?

Check out a PowerPoint presentation to the School Board from its Jan. 12 work session.
Watch a video of the Dec. 8 update to the School Board:

Check out a PowerPoint presentation to the School Board, from its Nov. 10 work session.

Watch a video of the Nov. 10 presentation and hear Board members’ questions:

Click here to find out more ways HCPS is enhancing student achievement.

Learn more about Henrico Schools at our “About us” page, and see our vision for the future by checking out our 2015-18 strategic plan.