About NOVA Independent Study:

NOVA Independent Study School, the Novato Unified School District’s K-12 independent study program, facilitates standards-based individualized instruction for self-motivated and self-directed students in grades K-12.  Students range from K-12 and meet in the school’s individualized setting with an assigned teacher. NOVA is the only K-12 independent study program in Marin County.  NOVA students can be co-enrolled at College of Marin and Santa Rosa Junior College, earning dual credits in both junior college and high school, by taking courses ranging from math, science, world language, the arts, and many more.

The school appeals to students who are active in various dance, drama, music, or athletic endeavors; further, the school appeals to self-motivated students who are seeking a more challenging experience.  NOVA has been able to meet the needs of students who need additional support due to their work schedule; emotional, medical, or psychological conditions; or travel schedule. Students are able to complete their high school education through enrollment in the NOVA program.

Program Structure

Each week, the NOVA student (and parent of elementary and middle school students) meets with a core teacher. For students under the age of fourteen, it is important for the parent to be involved in the planning, attend meetings, and provide supervision for the student at home. During the weekly meeting, a discussion of what the student has learned during the prior week is followed by planning for the next week, based on standards-based texts and district course of study outlines. Assessment methods used to determine a student’s mastery of information include projects, presentations, discussions, and tests. Usually, there is some dialogue between the teacher/parent/student regarding academic progress, issues, concerns, and goals. Students enrolled in Algebra I and Geometry (Or Algebra II depending on enrollment each year) attend weekly math classes for a total of 2.5 hours, which includes tutorial time, in addition to their core meetings. A science lab is available for students interested in completing the UC A-G lab science requirements for entry into colleges and universities.  APEX the on-line option, is available for students needing to earn additional credits to graduate on time or for students who need to meet A-G requirements that the core teachers do not teach, these include courses such as world language, Algebra II, and many others.

Courses follow the Novato Unified School District’s standards-based Courses of Study, preparing students for STAR tests and the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam). Courses approved by University of California follow rigorous college prep standards.

All potential high school graduates must meet the district-adopted graduation course requirements and earn a total of 220 credits, meet the Algebra I requirement, and complete 40 community service hours in order to receive a high school diploma.

Core teachers serve as counselors and teachers, ensuring that students complete the required courses; they assign and evaluate student work at weekly meetings. Because students complete all assignments at home, parents are an integral element of the students’ educational support team. Because students are working independently, they have more time to pursue other interests.

All NOVA students are encouraged to participate in community service activities either individually or with their families

NOVA Students

  • Assume responsibility for their learning
  • Learn to think critically and independently
  • Learn to solve problems analytically
  • Learn and develop research skills
  • Learn to present ideas thoughtfully and articulately
  • Use technology to broaden their learning

Academically, students range from those with resource needs to those who are concurrently enrolled in college classes or are planning for early graduation.  A small number of students have been classified as “at risk” in the traditional setting, but find success in the independent study environment.  Other NOVA students have begun their careers as visual or performing artists, or are competing athletes.

Most students come to NOVA for their weekly appointment and fulfill their social needs away from school through interaction with family, friends and/or religious groups, or through participation in the numerous opportunities available throughout the greater Bay Area.  A limited number of students, however, spend time at the Hill Education Student Center to complete their assignments, have access to computers, or interact with other students in separate programs. All students are welcome and encouraged to make full use of the school facilities.

NOVA Staff

The NOVA staff implements the Novato Unified School District adopted curriculum that is aligned with the state standards.  The curriculum can be differentiated to meet the needs of each student with regards to learning style, academic abilities and skills, career goals, future plans, or any other special considerations identified by the student and their family.  Students, in grades 6-12, receive traditional letter grades for the courses completed at NOVA.

Throughout the years, despite numerous shifts in location, staffing, and size, NOVA’s focus has not shifted. The school remains faithful to its original purpose: to offer self-directed students an individualized, community-based program that is tailored to their specific goals, ability levels, and learning styles.

Kessa Early

Maggie Tessin

Julie Adams

Bob Cline

Amy Ferhart

Jan Canfield

John Sanderbeck


 Office manager




 Math teacher

 Resource Teacher


720 Diablo Avenue
Novato, CA 94947

Phone: 415.897.7653
Fax: 415.898.3910

Email: www.nusd.org

Admission Process

An inter-district transfer is required for students who do not live within the school district before they can be accepted into this unique program.

Student and parent complete and submit an application, transcript, attendance, and current test scores.

NOVA staff reviews the application. A student with an IEP is not eligible for enrollment unless the IEP specifies independent study as a suggested learning option.

Student and parent are invited to visit NOVA and meet with the principal.

If accepted, a student from out of Novato must arrange an inter-district transfer; all students must check out of the previous school and return all books

Attendance Policy

Students are assigned a weekly appointment time with a core teacher and additional weekly classes for high school math and science.

Students are required to attend every appointment and complete all assignments.

There are no excused absences in independent study.

If a student is absent, he/she must call the school before the appointment time and arrange to turn in assignments within 24 hours.

Funding is determined by attendance, and attendance is based on assignments completed.

Students who miss more than two meetings and/or assignments will receive an evaluation of placement. The third missed appointment or assignment will negate the contract with NOVA and automatically drop students Graduation Requirements from the program

Graduation Requirements

220 units in high school including:

  • 40 units of English
  • 35 units of social studies
  • 20 units of math (including algebra)
  • 20 units of science
  • 20 units of visual or performing arts or foreign language

Passing scores on CAHSEE

Community Service – 40 hours required

Extra-curricular Activities and Co-enrollment

Students can participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities at Novato High School or San Marin.

Students can co-enroll in up to two classes at a traditional school in NUSD on a space available basis.

Students can co-enroll in classes at a community college.

Admission to NOVA, the Novato Unified School District’s K-12 independent study school, is by application only.

NOVA is accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), and the high school program is recognized by the University of California as a college prep high school.

Report This Post