Signature Programs + Practices

DVS students flying airplanes

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.

Strong School Culture

All Da Vinci students are known well in a community of care and collaboration. Da Vinci has many culture-building activities and meaningful moments that bring students and staff close together, from the Freshmen Overnighter, to school-wide Community Dialogue, to Advisory Competitions, sharing personal stories, and much more.

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 design challenges, 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 approach. 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 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
Media Production

Da Vinci Design
Graphic Design

Da Vinci Science
Mechanical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Biomedical Engineering

Mastery-Based Grading & Assessment

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. Students stay with the same advisory teacher and class for grades 9-12. 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 life skills, college admissions, psychological health, habits of effective teenagers, building school culture, sex education, and more.

Pathways Leading to College Degree Completion

Students have the opportunity to earn college credits, an AA, or BA for free while they are at Da Vinci, reducing the time and cost associated with college. At Da Vinci Connect High School, students begin their college journey as 9th graders and earn a two-year or four-year degree while in high school. This innovative model combines hybrid learning with early college, social emotional learning and real world learning.  Da Vinci Extension (DVX), a post-secondary college and career program, offers two unique pathways leading to college degree completion: DVX-UCLA Extension + El Camino College and DVX-Southern New Hampshire University.  Students have opportunities to participate in career exploration through project consults, paid and unpaid internships, training, mentorships, and industry-relevant events. > See How Extra Year of High School Can Set Students Up for College Success

School & Family Collaborative Education (Da Vinci Connect)

Da Vinci Connect offers a unique learning model known as the Homeschool Hybrid Program. Students attend 2 days per week of project-based learning on campus and 3 days per week of homeschool. At DV Connect, families serve as co-educators and collaborative partners in their child/ren's education.

Compassionate Communication (Da Vinci Connect)

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.