Advanced Coursework

Desert Heights offers advanced coursework at every grade level. We start with our gifted program on our Charter campus (K-4) and continue by building honors courses for 5th-10th grade. Honors courses are broken down by grade level to make sure we support our students mentally, physically, and emotionally. Our honors programs lead into Advanced Placement and College Dual Enrollment courses for 11th and 12th grade students. Learn more about our advanced coursework below.

Desert Heights Charter Schools is proud to provide a challenging environment for students identified as Gifted, as measured by one of the state-approved assessments of cognitive abilities. We offer appropriate gifted education services that may be different from the regular classroom program; specifically, in content, process, product, and learning environment.

Honors education is broader, deeper, and more complex than comparable learning experiences. Our students who qualify have a tailored schedule and prorgam to fit the grade level needs and content support. 

Fifth and Sixth Grade

We offer one honors group in each grade level and students can be placed in that section by content ability. If a student is advanced in math, but at grade level for English they will only be placed in an advanced math class. Students will also be placed in the next grade level math class if they qualify. This allows students to be scheduled directly where they can be pushed academically and supported. 

Seventh Grade

When students transition into Junior High we have one section that is full honors courses. This section of students take all honors classes; Math, ELA, Social Studies, Writing, Advisory, and Science. The curriculum will provide a higher rigor experience to prepare for early high school courses in 8th grade. We use test scores, previous data, and teacher recommendations for accelerated course placement. All students that qualify receive information, a meeting, and updates on their courses over summer. Our goal is to allow students that are ready to move up, to have the opportunity, if again, if they are developmentally prepared. The decision to accelerate a student is made collaboratively with the staff, student, and parents. 

Eighth Grade

Students in the 8th grade honors section end up taking full high school courses as an 8th grader. They start one year earlier to build a solid transcript and to qualify for Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses by their official junior year. This will allow them more opportunities for scholarship monies and the opportunity to qualify for any University of their choice. Students will graduate with over 26 college credits and start as a Sophomore or Junior in college. We have seen students pushed and prepared for their ACT test because of these courses. Our goal is to allow students that are ready to move up, to have the opportunity, if again, they are developmentally prepared. The decision to accelerate a student is made collaboratively with the staff, student, and parents. 

Freshman and Sophomore Year

Students that transition into high school have the option of taking honors math and English courses that offer the advanced level curriculum. The honors courses prepare students for greater success in Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses by their junior and senior year.

Junior and Senior Year

In these grades, students will qualify for Advanced Placement and College Dual Enrollment courses. These are college level courses and allow students to earn college credit. Students can earn up to 68 college credits, depending on their route. Check out more information about these options below. 

Advanced Placement is the opportunity for students to take higher level college courses using college curriculum and then taking a required test through College Board. Students test scores determine college credit. Colleges and Universities have set their policy and point scale for AP credit, some institutions will take the score of a 3 as credit and others require a 4 or 5. 

Taking AP tests allows students to earn college credit, save money and time, and build their college resume. This option is best for the student who is a solid test taker and has independent study and time management skills. 

Desert Heights offers the following Advanced Placement high school courses:

  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry 
  • AP European History
  • AP German
  • AP Government
  • AP Calculus A/B & C/D
  • AP US History

At DHPA, we offer two opportunities for students to take dual enrollment courses.

We have partnered with Paradise Valley Community College to offer our students the possibility for acceptance into the Achieving College Education (ACE) Program. This program's acceptance is based off an application and allows students to attend college courses on campus at Paradise Valley Community College their junior and senior year. Qualified students earn a FREE college dual enrollment experience and work with DHPA to support their schedule.

Additionally, DHPA Dual Enrollment courses are offered and allow students to take college courses on our campus with certified and approved teachers. All teachers must qualify under the Dual Enrollment Program through Maricopa Community College District (MCCCD) in order to teach our students. Dual enrollment teachers are committed to supporting students in the transition from high school to college level coursework. We extend the courses to be a full year to maximize student retention of the material and instruction. Students pay for the college credit, but DHPA offers scholarship and fundraising opportunities to support these fees.  At DHPA, we offer the following dual enrollment courses:

  • College English 101
  • College English 102
  • College English 201
  • College Spanish 101
  • College Spanish 102
  • College Spanish 201
  • College Spanish 202

To support students in taking advanced coursework, we provide them with opportunities to earn scholarships or raise money towards courses that have fees to cover specific costs associated with the programs (College Board and Maricopa County Community Colleges).

  • Gifted Program: FREE
  • Honors Courses: FREE
  • Advanced Placement Courses (AP): $100 per class/test
  • Dual Enrollment: $86 per credit hour and most college courses are worth 3-4 credits. 

We offer two scholarship opportunities for students taking AP and dual enrollment classes. Students have an opportunity to apply for each scholarship at the beginning of the year by expressing in essay format the benefits and rewards of taking AP and/or dual enrollment college level courses.

Two AP scholarships in the amount of $100.00 each and one Dual Enrollment schoalrship in the amount of $365.00 are available and these scholarships cover the exam costs and college credit fees. Please note that students taking both AP and dual enrollment courses are eligible to apply for both scholarships; however, they MUST do a separate application and essay for each one. Each application and essay are evaluated by a committee of staff members. 

The AP/Dual Fundraising Student Committee is designed to help students raise funds to pay for their dual enrollment and AP course fees. The committee meets monthly to review fundraising ideas and organize opportunities for all students to participate. Fundraising money is split between participants of each fundraising event and is applied to StudentVUE accounts in January. Students and parents are given the choice to designate how the funds are distributed if the student is enrolled in both dual enrollment and AP classes. The committee provides a variety of fundraisers like restaurant nights, jewelry sales, Applebee’s pancake breakfast and much more.