a new learning model for DSUSD


The Desert Sands Unified School District has added a new model of learning to its extensive catalog of educational programs that meet the mission of “inspiring and nurturing every student … one opportunity at a time.”

With a range of academic programs that put the learning needs, abilities and styles of each student first, DSUSD offers comprehensive virtual education from transitional kindergarten through high school. Horizon Virtual Academy integrates the traditional teaching style of independent learning with the latest virtual classroom teaching technologies and techniques developed over the past year.

The program also adheres to AB 130, legislation passed just before the 2021-2022 academic year that sets requirements for all independent study programs across the state.

According to Principal Jose Ramirez, Ed.D. : “The innovative program is a further commitment to provide educational programs that meet individual needs and academic abilities using an alternative approach to learning while allowing students to progress and graduate without the constraints of a traditional campus. “

Designed for the student and family wishing to benefit from the academic excellence of Desert Sands schools and eligible to participate in a non-traditional campus experience, Horizon Virtual Academy offers the same level of education as at all DSUSD schools using digital and online media. A team of teachers and support staff is assigned to Horizon Virtual Academy. Their efforts are directed only to students enrolled in the TK-12 virtual learning program and receive continuing education to teach in a digital world. Teachers virtually meet their students both in class and individually, depending on the student’s needs. All subjects are included in the curriculum, including physical education and the arts.

Parents’ participation in the academy is an integral part of the program. The lesson plans are based on both the DSUSD curriculum and the California Common Core Standards. Standardized testing will take place in the appropriate classes as determined by DSUSD and the State of California. These include the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and the DSUSD High School Math Placement / Diagnostic Test. The program is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the high school curriculum will meet college entrance requirements from UC and Cal State AG.

Horizon Virtual Academy replaces the independent study program previously offered by Horizon School and joins the Home Schooling Assistance Program.

Horizon Virtual Academy offers flexibility and independence combined with online teacher participation and direct instruction. About 700 students are currently enrolled in the Horizon Virtual Academy.

The administrative offices of Horizon School are located at 43-330 Palm Royale Drive in La Quinta. Horizon Virtual Academy registration instructions are available at horizon.dsusd.us/news/what_s_new/registration_process. Information about Horizon School and its programs is available at horizon.dsusd.us.

As a separate option, the Horizon Homeschool model is a fully accredited K-8 education program that works with parents / guardians who use detailed weekly lesson plans based on the DSUSD curriculum and California Common Core State standards. Home school parents / guardians are expected to work at least five hours per day with their students based on their own flexible hours. Each parent / guardian receives ongoing support from experienced and accredited supervisory teachers who ensure accountability with all state and district requirements during mandatory weekly meetings.

Homeschooling information can be obtained from the Horizon School website, horizon.dsusd.us.

Mary Perry is the Public Information Officer for the Desert Sand Unified School District.

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