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Committee Recommends CAPS Programming

Waukee Community School District (WCSD) is planning to be the first school district to bring CAPS programming to Iowa. At the June 24 Board of Education meeting, the board heard the Secondary Study Committee’s recommendation to implement CAPS programing for the 2014-15 school year. The presentation was prepared by RSP & Associates, who the board engaged to facilitate the committee work and lead the group in accomplishing its charge.

CAPS stands for the Center for Advanced Professional Studies and will be a part of the comprehensive educational experience provided for students at Waukee High School. CAPS is not a second high school, trade school or vocational program. CAPS will provide students with the opportunity to deeply explore professions of interest through a problem-based, inquiry learning method.

“Students will earn both high school and college credit, giving them a jump-start on their postsecondary work. They will gain experience beyond the traditional classroom, get the hands-on experiential learning colleges value, solve real-world problems that impact our business partners bottom line and future success, and apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations,” David J. Wilkerson, Ph.D., Superintendent of Waukee Schools said.

The CAPS philosophy is built around the idea that ALL students must acquire cutting-edge skills to be successful in the “Innovation Generation.” CAPS represents the collaboration of education, business and community, providing students with a unique, immersive experience, resulting in highly skilled, adaptable, global innovators and leaders. The learning will be student driven and teachers will facilitate the learning process through profession-based learning opportunities.

“CAPS will provide junior and senior students with real-world experiences in corporate settings, where they can learn and develop skills in high-demand local corporate environments. It has the potential to transform the high school experience through innovative programming targeted to business partner-directed projects, and immersion in profession-based programs,” Wilkerson said. “It’s an opportunity for the district to provide real benefit to the local business community, and at the same time provide exceptional educational programming for our students that currently doesn’t exist in Iowa.”

Arriving to the CAPS recommendation was a long process. In the spring of 2011 the Waukee Board of Education established a goal for administrators to study a ‘redesign’ of the senior year. As a result of the study, the administration concluded that the district needed to identify ways to continue the expansion of academic opportunities for all high school students:

  • Additional programs for Career and Technical Education

  • Increased number of AP (advanced program) classes

  • New courses in computer applications

  • Additional staff, leading to increased opportunities in the area of engineering (Project Lead the Way)

About the CAPS Committee

In the spring of 2012 the board directed the administration to establish a committee to study secondary programming for the Waukee Community School District (WCSD). This committee was formally approved at a school board meeting during the fall of 2012. The 47-member committee included community members, administrators, teachers, DMACC representation and Waukee city government representatives.

The official charge for the committee included:

Study enrollment projections and high school capacity, as well as future educational programming, and make a recommendation to the Board of Education in June of 2013 regarding possible program solutions and facility needs. The board has engaged the services of RSP & Associates to facilitate the committee work and lead the group in accomplishing its’ charge.

Five meetings were held at the district office from February to June 2013. The minutes and PowerPoint presentations can be viewed on the district website here.

At the June 3 Secondary Study Committee meeting, it was determined that CAPS was the best solution to meet the educational needs of our students now and in the future.

In addition to having access to high-quality instructors, CAPS students are also able to interact with professionals in the business community.  Each student is assigned a mentor to serve as a role model through the CAPS educational experience.

Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, KS was the first district to implement CAPS programing with courses being hosted at satellite locations during the 2009-10 school year.  In 2011 they were recognized on a national level with the prestigious Edison Gold Award in the Living, Working and Learning Environments category.

Districts implementing CAPS for the 2013-2014 school year include:

  • Minnetonka, MN
  • Topeka, KS
  • Park City, UT
  • North Kansas City, MO

For additional information regarding CAPS, please contact:
Kirk Johnson, High School Principal
Michelle Lettington, Executive Director of Professional Learning and Curriculum

Related Links

560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701