DVS students flying airplanes

Signature Programs + Practices

The Model

Da Vinci Schools are helping to close the gap between young people's college and career ambitions and the specific skills needed for 21st century jobs. Our signature programs and practices are recognized around the globe for fostering innovation in teaching and learning.

Real-World Learning & Industry Connections

Making real world connections is at the center of everything we do. From tackling real world problems in the classroom, to gaining hands-on experience via internships and work experience, Da Vinci students learn by doing in the real world. > Learn more

Project-Based Learning

Da Vinci's core courses are taught using a project-based pedagogy. Project-based learning is a learn-by-doing curriculum that integrates core subjects with real-life problems to be solved. Teachers work in teams with one another to identify content area essential skills that need to be addressed at the grade-level. Teachers work backwards to plan their curriculum, creating engaging, interdisciplinary projects that center on a big idea and a real-world connection that is rigorous, relevant and meaningful to students' lives. Students work in teams to create a final product that demonstrates mastery of content standards and a demonstration of key skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.  > See Personalization + Projects = Deeper Learning at Da Vinci

Career Pathways

To prepare students for the workforce, Da Vinci high schools offer career technical coursework as part of our core curriculum. The primary goal of Career Pathways is to equip students with the the skills they need to succeed in college and career. Da Vinci's industry partners help define the knowledge and entry level skills students need to know for the 21st century workplace.

Da Vinci Communications
Computer Science
Strategic Communications
Music & Media Production

Da Vinci Design
Graphic Design

Da Vinci Science
Mechanical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Biomedical Engineering

Mastery-Based Grading

Mastery-based grading (MBG) is a system that provides meaningful feedback to students and parents so that excellence can be achieved. MBG pushes students to focus on skill development and showing evidence of their mastery rather than calculating points necessary to achieve a letter grade without reference to academic progress. MBG gives students and parents specific feedback about what skills they have learned and not learned, which can be used to direct learning. Students are graded on a four point scale with 4 being the highest representing a detailed mastery of the material. Transcripts reflect the letter grade students’ earned in that course that semester. Students must earn a C- or higher in an academic course in order to earn credit for that course. If a student has a grade of “I” in a course at the end of the semester, that grade will be reported on the transcript as a grade of “F” and the student will not receive credit for that semester of the course.

Presentations of Learning (POLs)

Each semester, students complete a presentation of learning in which they demonstrate their mastery of content in their courses in a formal presentation setting. Students are required to provide and explain how specific work they have completed (i.e. the evidence) demonstrates growth toward mastery, 21st century skills, and Habits of Mind. POLs consist of an oral presentation followed with 3-5 minutes of questions and answers from panel members. Family members, community members, board members, and all stakeholders are invited and encouraged to attend POLs.


Each semester, all Da Vinci schools host a school-wide exhibition night where students show off their final products and demonstrate their mastery of essential skills throughout the semester. Exhibitions are an important component of project-based learning and assessment, and provide a comprehensive view of each student's knowledge and mastery of the curriculum.


Every high school student is enrolled in an advisory class that they stay with for their high school careers. The advisory curriculum covers academic and non-academic content essential for students' development as young people. Curriculum is adjusted each year to the students' needs, and has included college admissions, psychological health, habits of effective teenagers, and sex ed.

Seminars & Enrichment

Seminar classes are courses students elect to take during their last period of the day. Students can elect new seminars each semester, and these courses provide students with exposure to a variety of different professional fields, hobbies and activities. Students can also choose to take sports or music seminars which flow into the corresponding extracurricular programs. Our K-8 students have the opportunity to enroll in optional enrichment classes held on Wednesdays. Past seminars have included speech and debate, rock band, crocheting, flight school, robotics, soccer, cybersecurity, work experience, film and documentary, improv, basketball, yoga, and much more. LEARN MORE >

13th and 14th Year College Pathways

Students have the opportunity to earn college credits for free while they are at Da Vinci, reducing the time and cost of attaining a college degree. Da Vinci Extension (DVX), a college completion support program, offers two unique pathways leading to college degree completion: DVX-UCLA Extension and DVX-College for America at Southern New Hampshire University. > See How Extra Year of High School Can Set Students Up for College Success

School & Family Collaborative Education (K-8)

Da Vinci Connect offers two instructional models: (1) Homeschool Hybrid Program (students attend school on either Monday and Thursday OR Tuesday and Friday and receive at-home/homeschool instruction on the remaining days; students may attend enrichment class options); and (2) Homeschool Collaborative Program (students primarily learn through at-home/homeschool instruction and may attend classes or workshops offered by his/her teacher and enrichment program options). At DV Connect, we recognize our families and students as collaborative partners in the education process.

Compassionate Communication (K-8)

Social-emotional learning is central to Da Vinci Connect. We have named our brand of social emotional learning as compassionate communication—strategies to teach and reinforce core concepts such as tolerance, compassion, self-efficacy, flexibility, self- responsibility, empathy, positive conflict resolution, and collaboration.