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Horizons CIS-Overview


The Horizons School: Center for Independent Study (CIS) is a school in which students are Independent Learners.  Students navigate their own learning and complete their high school course work on their own. 


Each week students meet in person with their independent study teacher. The meetings are one hour long and are held at the Horizons' School Center. In the meeting students review their work and gather new assignment at the Horizons School Center. The heart of independent study is student learning and building a strong student-teacher relationship through weekly meetings. In the meetings with their teacher students discuss their progress on work assigned by the teacher.  Each week they hand in the previous week's assignments, complete projects, and get the assignments for the following week. 


  1. Students must do a full week's worth of work each week, which is a minimum of 25-30 hours on average.
  2. Students must attend their weekly appointment with their teacher.
  3. When students are on site, they must correct their homework and take tests, in addition to meeting with their teacher. On their appointment day, students will be at school for at least an hour, possibly three.


  • Individualized study
  • Flexibility--Student decide when to they do the hours of schoolwork.
  • No peer pressure--Student's success depends on them.
  • Students have a 1-1 relationship with their teacher
  • Students can be concurrently enrolled in other programs:  Students can take up to two classes in a community college or at their home school
  • Freedom--Students are free from the social aspects and structures of regular high school
  • Students can still participate in their home school's activities (e.g. proms and performances)
  • Students can participate in their home school sports if they take 2 classes at their home school.


In order to succeed at CIS students will need some specific skills:

  1. Good reading ability
  2. Self discipline and ability to manage your time
  3. A good work ethic that includes the ability to work hard
  4. The ability to be on time and meet academic deadlines
  5. The ability to learn math independently


  1. Obtain the Horizons CIS application for admission from either the student's home school (speak to the school's Registrar or Counselor) or from the Horizons CIS website.
  2. Fill out the application form correctly and completely.  It is in part a test to see if you can read and follow directions.
  3. Sign it...and your parent/legal guardian must sign too.
  4. Get an administrator at your home school to sign it.  He/she should be able to tell you whether Independent Study is a good option for you.
  5. Return your completed application to the home school. The administrator at your home school will submit your application to appropriate MDUSD staff for formal administrative review.
  6. Wait for Horizons to consider the application.  (This may take a couple weeks.) Frequently, interviews are scheduled before admission.


We want to determine whether or not you can teach yourself.

We look at a combination of indicators, including but not limited to your application, grades (especially in English and Math), your test scores; your credits; your attendance, and behavior records.

Students who may do well with independent study

  • Are on track for graduation 
  • Are strong communicators and work well independently
  • Have a consistent attendance record
  • Have strong time management skills
  • Work well with flexible schedules
  • Are looking for a long term (one year or more) program for high school graduation
  • Enjoy working in small groups and need less social interaction
  • As an English Language Learner, has met the ELD level of 3 or higher to read the approved curriculum to meet UC a-g standards
  • Students who have IEP’s or 504’s that DO NOT require daily interactions or specialized instruction.

Students who may find independent study challenging

  • Are in need of credit recovery to graduate
  • Struggle with attendance
  • Students who enjoy attending school daily
  • Students who like the routine of daily classes
  • Students who enjoy daily social interaction with students and staff
  • Students who are English Language Learners and have an ELD level of 2 or lower may struggle to read the approved curriculum to meet UC a-g standards
  • Students with IEP’s or 504 plans that require daily support and interaction with trained specialists.