VHS Opening as XQ Super School

Vista High School Opening Doors to XQ Super School on August 16, 2017

Since September 2016 when Vista High School (VHS) was selected as one of 10 XQ Super Schools in the country, the team has been hard at work in partnership with the Vista Unified School District (VUSD), Digital Promise and XQ Institute to roll out VHS’ transformation into a Super School.

The vision of XQ Vista High is for every student to co-create their learning experiences based on their strengths and passions within the context of solving global challenges. The goal is for every student to graduate with purpose and direction towards a college and/or a career path that is meaningful to them.

To that end, in a few short months, the XQ Design Team at VHS has advanced the following:

  • Developed a philosophy of instruction for the new XQ Super School at Vista High.
  • Designed a yearlong plan for professional development and collaboration.
  • Created a curriculum mapping system with internationally recognized specialists.
  • Hosted monthly community forums to solicit feedback and co-collaboration in the design.

Each student in the incoming freshman class this fall will have two new courses in their schedule: Challenge and PLUS Freshman Seminar. In the Challenge course students will select and solve real world challenges outlined by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals using a multidisciplinary approach. PLUS is a seminar course for all freshman to explore the world of work and practice the skills needed in their desired career path with individualized support and encouragement from teachers.

All VHS students have two elective courses to more deeply explore their areas of interest, opportunities throughout the school day to share who they are as well as learn from and with their peers. All VHS staff are participating in professional development workshops throughout the year to deepen their knowledge and practice, and are engaging in more collaboration time among teaching teams.

To stay up to date on the XQ Super School project, visit vhs.vistausd.org and follow us at @VHSPanthers. For school tours, community events, partnerships and press, please contact Kim Richards, External Director for XQ Vista High at kim@digitalpromise.org or 619-708-4430.

History of Personalized Learning at Vista High School

In September 2015, Vista High School was one of five VUSD schools to accept the Personal Learning Challenge to make personal learning a reality in their schools. Principal Anthony Barela and a small group of staff started a Personal Learning Academy as a school within a school to incubate and test the personal learning approach. Results from the first year showed a 99% reduction in disciplinary incidents, a 50% reduction in absences, a 62% increase in the number of students who increased their GPA by 1.0 or more, a 27% reduction in D grades and a 33% reduction in F grades. For more about Vista High School, visit the VHS Website.

About XQ Super School Project

In September 2015, Laurene Powell Jobs focused her decades of expertise in the education sector and significant resources on a new initiative sponsored by the Emerson Collective. The XQ Super School Project was designed as an open call to all American high schools – public, charter, magnet and private – to reimagine the high school experience. Nationally, 700 applications were submitted to XQ and in September 2016 10 schools around the US each won a five-year $10 million grant to realize their vision for a reimagined high school experience in the 21st century.

About Vista Unified School District

The Vista Unified School District (VUSD) is on a mission to become the model of educational excellence and innovation by inspiring every student to persevere as critical-thinking individuals who collaborate to solve real-world problems. With 29 schools serving nearly 22,000 students from preschool to 12th grade, VUSD is one of northern San Diego County’s largest educational agencies.

Becoming an XQ Super School enables the re-imagination of Vista High School within a school district that is in the process of reimagining itself in many ways to become a futuristic learning ecosystem. As such, VUSD also includes an Innovation Department led by Assistant Superintendent Matt Doyle, which spearheads several initiatives including:

  • Personal Learning Challenge now embraced by 15 district schools
  • Partnership with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and 22 countries to infuse Creativity and
  • Critical Thinking into learning experiences.
  • Talent Cities to promote and supply lifelong learners and career ready talent in San Diego County.
  • Building a Prenatal to grade three (P-3) bridge that braids together health, social/emotional and academic supports that close the achievement gap before it opens.


For media inquiries or additional information, please contact...

Kim Richards

XQ Vista High External Director

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