During this time of national health concerns and school shut down, Desert Sands Unified School District students and staff are focused on staying safe. The articles that will appear in this column over the next several weeks have been taken from the archives. For the next several weeks, we will reintroduce you to the seven high schools of Desert Sands Unified School District. They all provide an outstanding education and offer many extra-curricular activities. But each is unique, offering traditional and non-traditional means of providing students with a path to high school graduation, college preparation, and workplace success.
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Horizon School is a haven to nearly 300 students spanning from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The largest portion of our population (nearly 200 students) participate in a rigorous high school A-G program. With the support of our district office, Horizon students have opportunities to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Students also have access to college level courses and Career Technical Education courses that lead to a variety of post secondary opportunities. In an effort to address the whole child and promote options after high school, Horizon students have benefitted from excursions to the University of Redlands, California State University at San Bernardino, University of California at Riverside, University of California at Los Angeles, College of the Desert, La Quinta’s Desert Town Hall forum, career fairs and Balboa Park. This paradigm shift has changed our culture and culminated in students being accepted to the likes of Brigham Young University, University of California at Riverside, Northern Arizona, California State University at San Bernardino, Humboldt State University, Grand Canyon University, etc.
Horizon’s commitment to providing rigorous opportunities has been supported by weekly laboratory settings in English language arts, math, and science where each student receives direct instruction in settings that often do not exceed 10 students. These intimate settings have exponentially enhanced the student to teacher ratio where students receive instruction in an environment that greatly rivals the traditional model. In this setting, students receive individual attention, PSAT and SAT preparation, and participate in small, non-invasive, and safe state testing environments. The result has been monumental! 72% of our eleventh graders met or exceeded standard, outpacing the entire school district. A 35 point increase in math state test scores represented the largest growth amongst our district high schools.
In addition, Horizon supports a kindergarten through eighth grade “home school” program. Similar to our high school program, it addresses some very unique student needs. Both programs are sanctuaries for students with unique disabilities, professional athletes, professional actors, students dealing with emotional issues that require smaller settings, missionaries, etc. Our “home school” instructors provide parents with lesson plans, curriculum, and pedagogical skills to maximize the home school experience and fully participate in educating their child. The intimate collaboration amongst the teacher, parent and child arms parents with skills and tools to facilitate and participate in their child’s educational journey that often ends by the time the student reaches grade three or four. This unique setting has resulted in 7th grade ELA and math score increases of 43 and 39 points respectively and 8th grade ELA and Math scores of 79 and 81 points respectively (largest increase in our school district).
It is Horizon’s goal to inform our community stakeholders and share the successes of this unique setting. Parents and community members interested in this rigorous and unique educational arena may take advantage of our open door policy; our administration and staff will provide all with personalized tours. It is important that our stakeholders throughout the Coachella Valley are aware of this diverse environment. We are the hidden gem in the desert!
Information on student meal service and supplemental learning can be found at www.dsusd.us.
- Semester-awards: DSUSD
- Horizon: DSUSD