The model at VHS started with a pilot. The pilot involved eight teachers and 165 11th-graders. This pilot was called the
Personalized Learning Academy (PLA) during the
2015–16 school year. The goal was to create a
personalized and highly challenging environment for
each student, aimed at preparing them to become
inspired leaders, able to solve any challenge with an
open and empathetic perspective. This pilot, and the
lessons accumulated along the way, form the basis for
what will become a fully personalized model for all
Vista High School students, beginning with the class
entering in fall 2017.
Current educational structure is based on the 1892 “Committee of Ten” recommendations focused on providing every student the same educational experience. It was from this work that schools developed the segregation of disciplines primarily focused around English, math, history, chemistry, and physics. Additionally, this Committee saw that high school was a separating ground for the few elite ready for college and the masses who would work as an industrialized labor force. We believe that we must stop the perpetuation of this antiquated structure.
Recent standards movements furthered conformity by encouraging teachers to look at every student in the same way. Examination of many standards documents provide little evidence of developing critical and creative thinking, problem solving, metacognition, or the ability to use knowledge and skill in a flexible manner. Often today’s high school teachers and university professors lament that students do not have desired skills (see graphic to the right) to succeed. Business owners now need their employees to generate new ideas, analyze and evaluate information to help the business ‘stay ahead of the curve,’ and collaborate with people on a global scale rather than follow rote instructions. Research from the OECD predicts that 65% of today’s elementary age students will be employed in careers that do not yet exist based on current trends in the workforce.
An educational system can no longer prepare students for a specific job that may or may not exist in the future. Instead, schools must prepare our students to learn essential skills that will help them navigate an ever evolving future. Therefore, intentional decisions must be made to ensure our students learn how to drive their learning, engage in critical and creative thinking, and solve problems within an interconnected and interdependent global society.
What are we doing to intentionally model and teach students how to learn these desired skills?
How do we assess students in their ability to use these skills?
How do we provide concise and actionable feedback to help them develop these skills from their efforts?
How do we help students apply their learning to meaningful and authentic problems as well as reflect upon and refine their abilities from their efforts?
How do we help students become self-directed learners?
Continue to look for ways to improve. Do not hesitate to take the first step.
At VHS we built a learning philosophy. This purpose of the learning philosophy is to define the parameters of change that will shape our first steps in the evolution to an XQ Super School. Our first iteration emphasizes:
Personalized Learning at the core of instructional practice in which students will become increasingly engaged in the design of their learning process.
Development of the Habits of Mind to help students build the mental dispositions necessary to engage in complex, messy problems which have no clear solution.
Demonstration of learning through authentic application of knowledge and skill
Development of the social-emotional well-being of our students
Vista High School (VHS) is a comprehensive high school that services over 2500 students on a daily basis. Vista High school is one of three, comprehensive public high schools located in the Vista Unified School District. Vista is a community located in northern San Diego County. Vista High school was designated at Gold Ribbon school by the state of California in 2015. Vista High School was also named an XQ Super School in the fall of 2016. The last recognition came in the winter of 2016 as VHS was named a Golden Bell recipient for its personalized learning.
Contact: Anthony Barela
Contact Title: Principal
Vista High School
1 Panther Way