Independence High School is one of nine high schools in the Merced Union High School District. All applications are reviewed by the district screening committee. The screening committee decides which educational program is best for the student in accordance with district and state policies. Independence High School is located on the East Campus Educational Center (ECEC). ECEC houses the following schools and programs in addition to Independence High School; Yosemite High School, Merced Adult School, Sequoia High School (a community day school), the Child Development Center, ROP (Regional Occupational Program), DOC (District Opportunity Center), and 5th and 6th year seniors. Independence High School also runs satellite programs at Atwater and Buhach Colony High Schools.
The Merced metropolitan area had an unemployment rate of 16.3% for 2010. This figure is significantly higher than the California rate of 12.4% for the same period. While the area is showing progress from double-digit unemployment rates there is still a lag behind state and national unemployment averages. For the 2014-2015 school year, 42.3% of Independence High School students, were eligible for free and/or reduced lunches.
Independence High School is comprised of full-time independent study (IHS) students and students concurrently enrolled “On Track” (OT) (IHS as well as their home campus). Both IHS and OT students may meet with teachers at either ECEC or one of the two district schools located outside of the city of Merced, depending on a student’s school of attendance: Atwater High School, Buhach Colony High School, or Livingston High School. Each satellite campus provides a room for the Independent High School program where students meet with an IHS teacher.
Independence High School serves a diverse student population from various cities and communities in Merced County; the northern section of the district serves students from Livingston, Ballico, Snelling, and Cressey; the central section includes students from Atwater, Winton, and McSwain; and to the south, Merced, LeGrand and El Nido.
In June 2014, IHS received a full six-year WASC accreditation, with a mid-term review.
Since that time, instruction in core classes began to implement the district-adopted standards-based textbooks used in all other schools in the district. Contracted teachers have been hired to work in the areas of English, math, science, social studies and art for the purpose of curriculum development, alignment and appropriateness to the diverse needs of independent study students. Work continues on alignment of the IHS curriculum with district pacing calendars and the development of lessons appropriate to the nature of independent studies and time available for instruction. In addition to meeting with an IHS teacher, students are also enrolled in English and math classes with “Highly Qualified” teachers. CAHSEE classes are also being offered in both ELA and Math. Efforts continue to provide staff development for IHS teachers in the use of standards-based curriculum and resources to best support students in what is typically a one-hour meeting covering six different classes. Teachers may request additional time for student appointments, in particular, for those who are limited English and/or simply need additional time to support success. IHS has transitioned to a blended model of online instruction in which students meet the supervising teacher for a minimum of one hour per week, take all assessments in a proctored secure testing environment as well as meet twice per month minimum in group classes to participate in lessons focusing on the literacy standards of the CCSS in the areas of ELA and Math. This model has emerged as addressing the ESLRs as CCSS are implemented to prepare students to achieve the goals of college and career readiness. Under the current model, all IHS teachers are “highly qualified" for the courses they teach.