Iowa City Community School District to change secondary school plans, courses and schedules offered to students

The school district will have a new secondary school model, which will expand to include sixth grade in the middle schools.


The Iowa City Community School District’s School Board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. The board approved a measure to include sixth grade in middle schools.

Virginia Russell, News Reporter

The Iowa City Community School District will start to include sixth grade in middle schools and implement “teams” learning to ease the transition from elementary to middle school.  

This expansion is part of a new and ongoing model to provide more opportunities for students, which will implement differently structured schedules and new classes for students, according to a report presented to the school board. 

The district is still receiving feedback from staff and faculty on how to best complete the model. They will announce staff timelines in spring of 2023.

The model plans to divide sixth-grade students into what the district calls a “Teams Structure,” which allows teachers to focus on the emotional and academic needs of students, Lucas Ptacek, Iowa City schools Executive Director of Secondary Schools, said. 

Cohorts of around 90 sixth-grade students will be split up into three teams, where they will alternate between three teachers who will teach specific subjects, Ptacek said. 

Having fewer teachers makes it easier for students to feel less overwhelmed when they are being introduced to a new environment, he said. 

“…The logical transition between elementary to middle school is you go for a smaller amount of teachers at the elementary level, and you gradually increase in our teachers that they’re interacting with,” Ptacek said. 

The model will also offer exposure classes for sixth-grade students, which allows them to explore courses they are interested in. The courses will serve as stepping stones for electives that will be offered to them in seventh and eighth grade, he said. 

“…We look at the types of courses that are really going to excite them and as far as what are going to guide them into high school when they start to focus more solely on their career pathways,” Ptacek said. 

Iowa City Community School District School Board member Jayne Finch said on Tuesday that she was enthusiastic about the new model. 

“I’m so excited about this transitional year and the way that you set it up, it’s so needed and the opportunities for students to explore and find what they love,” Finch said.