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About DSIS

DSIS Mission & Vision

MISSION: Davis School for Independent Study is a small, innovative school for students in grades K-12 offering differentiated, high-quality curricular pathways to pursue educational and career goals. We combine independent study, home school, on-site classes, access to other high school and community college courses, and community learning experiences all incorporating individually tailored, challenging and engaging curriculum. We value and prioritize in personal attention and strong relationships between staff, families and students.

VISION: DSIS endeavors to offer engaging and innovative curricular opportunities while building and fostering personal and individualized relationships with our students. We strive to offer multiple pathways to success while still maintaining a small, family-like community.


The Davis School for Independent Study is a K-12 school under the auspices of the Davis Joint Unified School District.  Started in the 1991-92 school year, the DSIS high school program is fully accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  DSIS has presented high school diplomas to more than 678 students who meet the school’s graduation requirements.  Many of these students continue their education at colleges and universities while other students move directly into jobs and careers.

Independent study is an alternative instructional methodology to traditional classroom instruction and is consistent with the Davis Joint Unified School District’s course of study.   Independent study is not an alternative curriculum.  Rather, DSIS provides individual students with a choice of ways to acquire the values, skills, and knowledge that all students should gain. The DSIS alternative instructional methodology involves an instructional strategy that responds to an individual’s needs and style of learning.

Independent study can be part of, separate from, or in addition to a regular classroom program.  A written agreement, valid for up to one school year at a time, is completed by the certificated teacher as the general instructional supervisor.  The agreement is reviewed by the student, and if a minor, by his or her parent or guardian and any other person who may be directly involved in the student’s learning program.  The written agreement sets educational objectives and addresses activities and personnel involved, resources to be used, and a method to evaluate successful completion of the agreement.  The agreement must adhere to the school district policy and state legal requirements.

Instruction through independent study:

  • Allows the student to study at his or her own pace within the limits of compulsory attendance requirements.
  • Challenges each student to excel in his or her area of special interest and abilities.
  • Provides an alternative for students to achieve competency and mastery of basic skills.
  • Allows children to be educated at home.
  • Encourages the student to be resourceful.
  • Facilitates the student’s active participation in his or her own education.
  • Offers real flexibility in the design of an educational program.
  • Offers educational choices to students and families.

Enrollment in independent study must be a voluntary choice made by the student and parent.  Attendance records are based on a student’s work within the terms and conditions of his or her written agreement and not on traditional “seat time.”  Therefore, each student must be motivated to study on his or her own as prescribed by the agreement.  These are essential components for a student’s progress and educational success.

DSIS Philosophy


The Davis School for Independent Study is an alternative school where participants (parents, students, and staff) agree that:

  • A broad range of learning styles exists among students.
  • Some students learn better in an environment that is different than the structured classroom.
  • DSIS exists to help those students who can benefit from an alternative form of learning, namely independent study or home study, where the student and his/her family take on more of the responsibility for the learning process than typically occurs in the traditionally structured classroom.
  • District and state curricula can be met using an individualized approach based on the strengths and needs of each student.
  • By providing guidance and materials to those students who choose to learn by independent means, each student will be given a greater chance of success, and society will benefit from the contributions of these educated citizens.
  • Learning reflects many kinds of intelligence.  Consequently, assessment of learning must be broad based.
  • The learning environment is such that life and learning become intertwined.  Wisdom and knowledge are not merely products of classroom time, but of all aspects of daily life.  Recognition of this fact promotes lifelong learning.
  • The journey toward becoming a self-directed person does not happen overnight, but is a lifelong process.

Criteria for Success at DSIS

The primary aim of DSIS is to offer a means of individualizing the educational plan for students whose needs may be met best through study outside the traditional classroom setting.  Students most likely to benefit from independent study are:

  • Those students who have the motivation to achieve educationally as well as or better than in the traditional classroom.
  • Those students who have the ability to read quite well, with access to someone who can provide support when needed.  This does not mean that an applicant will be excluded based on a reading deficit; however, students and parents should know that the skills of reading and writing are given serious attention in the instructional program.
  • Those students who have sufficient self-discipline and self-direction to remain focused on a learning task long enough to reach specific, agreed-upon objectives, such as study assignments.  This kind of self-discipline is a fairly complex behavior that reflects aptitude and acquired skills as well as a positive attitude to succeed in all assigned schoolwork.
  • Those students who have certain learning styles that are not particularly well suited for a highly structured classroom but, nonetheless, wish to advance their education through an alternative approach.

Who May Benefit From Independent Study

Specialized StudentsThe specialized student is a student who is extraordinarily creative, talented, or gifted in a particular field may seek independent study assistance as he or she develops or practices an outstanding skill.  Performers in areas of physical or artistic expertise may find the flexibility and adaptability of independent study can meet their special needs.\

Student with Credit Deficits: Students who lack credits to earn a high school diploma or wish to qualify for an examination leading to an equivalent to a high school diploma (e.g. the General Education Development (GED) or California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE)) may ask for help in meeting requirements for these tests.  Students may also ask for tutorial assistance in preparing for examinations for a union apprenticeship program.  Under the independent study strategy, teachers can help students achieve their goals by focusing on study skills and providing necessary materials, guidance, tutoring, academic counseling, vocational assessment, and coursework.

Students Who Might Otherwise Drop Out: Many young people find out that the traditional high school program prevents them from entering “real life” fast enough.  They want to combine working and specialized study with their education.  Many students drop out because they feel unsupported or disconnected in a regular school setting.  Moreover, they may lack the skills or self-discipline needed to succeed.  Davis School for Independent Study can, in many cases, offer these students the opportunity of studying independently at home at a time which is convenient for them.  Students over 18 years of age may also consider contacting the Davis Adult School to inquire about the high school diploma program (757-5380).


DSIS Student Learning Outcomes

I am a student who takes personal responsibility for my learning and progress.

  • I demonstrate self-discipline, organization, and time management skills.
  • I meet deadlines and maintain regular attendance.  
  • I set and achieve realistic academic and personal goals.  I am flexible, adaptable, and willing to change my study habits as needed.

I am a student who demonstrates mastery of academic content.

  • I value and maintain high standards of academic achievement.   
  • I analyze, synthesize, evaluate, problem solve, and use critical thinking in my coursework.
  • I communicate effectively in oral and written English.
  • I am proficient in mathematical skills and concepts.

I am a student who is prepared for life after high school.

  • I skillfully use media, technology, online resources, and other 21st century learning tools.
  • I connect and apply my academic learning to real life situations.
  • I demonstrate awareness of essential living skills and a healthy life style.
  • I am actively preparing for college, career, and/or work opportunities.

I am a student who positively contributes to my school and community.

  • I take personal responsibility for my actions and outcomes.
  • I show civic responsibility by engaging in volunteer service.
  • I work productively with others from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • I am respectful, courteous, and considerate toward other students and school staff.