Academic Program:

Desert Heights Academy is divided into general classes:  Elementary, Junior High, and High School.  Upon enrollment, students receive an orientation consisting of a review of our program, rules and procedures, and expectations.  This orientation is designed to set each student up for success.  Following the orientation, students are given a ‘Welcome Tour’ of our program, meeting the staff and familiarizing themselves with the building.
After the orientation, new students are placed in a classroom that matches their academic level and age range.  The teacher will review the IEP and / or other relevant educational information from the referring school.  This ensures that each student is provided with quality instruction.
The curriculum from the Peoria Unified School District has been adopted by our school.  Many of the schools within the Peoria school district have received the ‘excelling’ status by the State.



(Peoria Unified School District No. 11 8. 23.02 Curriculum & Instruction K:\Joanne Plate\Specialists\Curriculum Specialists Handbook\03-Curriculum\12 THE PEORIA MODEL FOR CURRICULUM.doc)






symbolCurriculum is developed by district teachers in keeping with the following principles:

symbolCurriculum enables students
to successfully meet or exceed
national and state standards
and competency requirements.
symbolCurriculum is consistent with current educational research and the best information about adult life and work in the 21stcentury.
symbolCurriculum is designed from a clear vision of desired student performance after K-12 schooling.
symbolCourse and grade level outcomes with aligned unit outcomes and appropriate assessments reflect a balance between the content and application skills students will learn.

Materials are selected and/or created by district teachers in keeping with the following principles:
symbol Instructional materials serve as resources to teach the curriculum; they do not drive the curriculum.
symbol Instructional materials support the end goals we have for students.
symbol Materials actively and creatively foster higher-level thinking.
symbol Materials are selected and combined to promote multi-sensory experience and varied approaches to learning.
symbol Materials include technological resources as well as printed texts.
symbol All primary and supplemental texts will be approved through the district’s adopted processes.
District teachers learn, develop, use and improve instructional practices which illustrate the following principles:
symbol Instruction is clearly aligned with state standards, course and unit outcomes and assessments.
symbol Instructional strategies support the end goals we have for students and reflect current best-practices according to research.
symbol Teachers’ actions show appropriate decision-making about essential elements of instruction, including intervention and extension strategies as needed.
symbol Instruction fosters higher level thinking, independent and cooperative learning.
symbol Grading procedures follow district guidelines and policies.
Student assessments are used by district teachers in keeping with the following principles:
symbol Assessments are aligned with program, course, and unit outcomes.
symbol Assessments call for meaningful demonstrations of identified outcomes and performance objectives.
symbol Assessment design is an integral part of curriculum development.
symbol Assessment is part of instruction. It fosters student self-assessment and self-adjustment.
symbolDistrict-wide assessments are developed for program and course/grade level; within classrooms, tools and procedures vary.

Students who achieve the graduation outcomes of Desert Heights Academy and the Arizona Department of Education will demonstrate competency by meeting or exceeding the following:

1. Demonstrate civic and personal responsibility

symbol Knowledge and understanding of events in the community, state, nation and world
symbolUnderstanding of individual’s role in positively contributing to society
symbol Awareness of social responsibilities including service, leadership, and participation in democracy


2. Access, evaluate and apply information and technology effectively

symbol Knowledge and understanding of computer applications and internet technology
symbol Understanding of accessing and applying information from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats
symbol Awareness of how to utilize information and technology to solve problems


3. Anticipate and proactively react to change

symbol Knowledge of and the ability to apply skills in a variety of areas
symbolUnderstanding of human relations in order to collaborate and cooperate with others
symbol Awareness of multiple opportunities and the flexibility required for change


4. Apply appropriate communication skills in a variety of situations

symbol Knowledge and understanding of the various styles of communication
symbol Understanding of the need to read, write, listen speak and present in an effective manner
symbol Awareness of matching appropriate communication skills to various situations

 5. Exhibit life-management skills

symbol Knowledge of the physical, emotional, intellectual and financial responsibilities of individuals
symbol Understanding of time management and the organizational skills required to function in business and socially
symbol Awareness of the need to establish healthy habits and independence to be an effective member of society


6. Display awareness and understanding of global and cross-cultural events

symbol Knowledge and understanding of the diverse cultures in our world
symbol Understanding of current events and their effect on cultures
symbol Awareness of the individual’s influence on society and how to effectively produce positive changes


7. Think critically, creatively, independently, and originally

symbol Knowledge and understanding of the importance of being able to work independently and produce original ideas
symbol Understanding of problem-solving strategies to apply to a variety of situations
symbol Awareness of the importance of evaluation of problems and situations in order to make critical decisions


8. Apply problem-solving strategies in real-world situations

symbol Knowledge and understanding of the various applications of problem-solving strategies 􀂃 Understanding the importance of prioritizing and comparing solutions to problems
symbol Awareness of the importance of critical thinking in ones ability to solve problems

Engaged Teaching: 
The staff at DHA uses engaged teaching techniques.  These particular techniques offer a powerful way of motivating students to learn and expand their knowledge. 
Some of the techniques used by teachers to engage students include:
  • Students are invited to construct and produce knowledge in personally meaningful ways.
  • Students are encouraged to teach their peers about new knowledge they have acquired.  This promotes social skills and confidence as well as knowledge acquisition.
  • Fun and engaging projects are used to motivate students’ interest in learning.
  • Students work in groups on various ‘hands on’ projects.
  • Students post their work on the board and can see the progress they are making. 
  • Teachers serve as coaches and guides to student learning.

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Accelerates Non-Readers, Struggling Readers and English Learners Description:!
The Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum is an intensive mastery-based language arts intervention that targets the needs of non-readers, struggling readers, and English learners. It accelerates them to grade-level proficiency by utilizing a sequential, cumulative, skill-based instructional format that addresses all learning styles.

Field Trips: Field trips are a common occurrence at DHA.  Many of the field trips are educational in scope and offer a unique opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom.  Some field trips are reward based, reinforcing student success. 

Parents / guardians MUST sign the all-purpose field trip permission form in order for their child to attend. 
Although all students are encouraged to attend field trips, there are occasions a student may be held back from going.  These occasions include:

  • The student is sick / ill
  • The student is not demonstrating safe behavior and therefore cannot be transported

Reading Success:
Lindamood-Bell Learning Process
Seeing Stars®
Symbol Imagery for Fluency, Orthography, Sight Words, and Spelling
Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking® (V/V®)

The development of reading skills is very important for students to make the transition toward success in the real world.  Whether it is being able to read a text book, an operating manual, a menu, a job / college application, or traffic signs, students are better able to manage their day to day activities with confidence and success. 
In efforts to strengthen reading skills, we use the Lindamood-Bell Learning Process and all students receive one hour per day of targeted reading instruction.  Each student has opportunities to work in cooperative reading groups and receive focused instruction (1:1). 

Reading Success (Continued):
Students keep track of their progress and receive awards and prizes for their reading accomplishments.  This reinforces the notion that when one is better able to read, they are awarded in the real world.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s): Individualized Education Plans are common for students who receive special education services.  These plans are designed to meet the unique learning and behavioral needs of students. DHA staff will monitor each student’s progress toward accomplishing the goals stated in the IEP.  Parents are regularly informed of their child’s progress and whether that progress is enough for them to achieve the goals by the end of the year. The progress reports will be provided to parents at least quarterly. Desert Heights Academy uses e-IEP Pro to produce IEP’s.

Response to Intervention (RTI): DHA uses the problem-solving model which includes the DHA team to consider student performance data to identify and define learning problems, to develop interventions to solve those problems, and to evaluate the effects of the interventions on the defined problem or problems. Progress Reports: Students receive 4 progress reports each year.  Specifically, students receive two progress reports in the Fall semester and two in the Spring semester.  Grading periods last 9 weeks per quarter. Grades are assigned based on the following factors:

  • Classroom participation
  • Active effort towards assignment completion
  • Grade percentages from class assignments / lesson and tests.

Academic Rewards:

Students EARN WHEN THEY LEARN.  The Academic Rewards program supports students transitioning towards academic success by rewarding active efforts at completing assignments and lessons on a daily / weekly basis.