Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District

Updated May 15, 2019

Serving at-risk students

Placentia, California

The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) serves approximately 24,000 students in Orange County, California. An independent study program at one of PYLUSD’s high schools—La Entrada—originally provided digital curriculum for college prep, offering minimum instructional support because the students who were partaking in the program were all self-regulated and motivated. Carrie Bisgard, PYLUSD’s Director of Instructional Support, says over time, the district started to recognize that this model was not going to serve a wide variety of students, so they added in another path known as the hybrid pathway. While La Entrada serves 100 students grades 9–12, the hybrid pathway specifically serves 30 of those students. Students are typically referred to the hybrid pathway by their home high school’s academic counselor because of underlying mental health needs. The students may have a hard time making it through a full day on a full-time comprehensive high school campus and they may also have a hard time in an online, independent study program; so this flexible approach provides a hybrid alternative and an individualized way to learn. Without the hybrid approach, these students would be at-risk for dropping out of school.

The hybrid pathway allows students to come into a lab every day for two hours to work on online curriculum alongside a teacher. The teacher has an independent study credential as well as a single content area and special education credential. When the student starts the hybrid pathway, the teacher works with the student to help set a realistic pace and expectation; each week, the teacher and student talk through the pacing guide for that week’s coursework. Students are typically working on one academic course and a social emotional course at the same time. In addition to the courses, La Entrada offers a face-to-face workshop once a week on a variety of topics like mindfulness, college essay writing, and career matching.

In the lab setting, the teacher does whole group meetings once a week along with one-on-one meetings with each student, and sometimes pulls together a small group lecture or discussion. In addition to the teacher who is always available in the lab, three teachers serve as teachers of record for the online courses. These teachers are also available onsite as students need the support. The line between the fully online independent study program and the hybrid pathway is fluid, so students have the flexibility to move from one to the other as needed. For instance, students who begin to fall behind in the fully online independent pathway are counseled to enter the hybrid pathway for additional support. As Bisgard emphasizes, this flexible approach between the two paths allows students to build the skills they need to possess to do independent study or integrate partially again on their home campus for a concurrent class, team sports, or band.

This profile was developed through correspondence with Carrie Bisgard of Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.

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