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Horizons CIS - Overview


The Horizons School: Center for Independent Study (CIS) is a school in which students work on assignments at home or at the Horizons School Center. The heart of independent study is student learning and building a strong student-teacher relationship through weekly meetings.


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


  • Individualized study
  • Flexibility--You decide when to do your hours of schoolwork.
  • No peer pressure--Your success depends upon you.
  • You have a 1-1 relationship with your teacher
  • You can be concurrently enrolled in other programs:  You can take up to two classes in a community college or at your home school
  • Freedom--You're free from the social aspects and structures of regular high school
  • You can still participate in your home school's activities (e.g. proms, performances, sports events)


In order to succeed at CIS you 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 Principal) or from the Horizons CIS website.
  2. Fill out 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.  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.