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Highly Qualified Teachers in Independent Study

Approaches that some districts and county offices of education are using to ensure that all federally required core subjects be taught by teachers who have demonstrated subject matter competence.

Following are some approaches that California's districts and county offices of education are using to meet the federal requirement that all core academic subjects be taught by teachers who have demonstrated subject matter competence. California Education Code (EC) Section 47605(1) defines teacher requirements for core academic subjects.

California law (EC Section 44865) allows independent study teachers to teach any subject as long as that teacher has a valid California teaching credential. However, to be compliant with the federal "highly qualified" requirements, independent study teachers also must demonstrate “subject matter competency."

Charter school teachers of core academic subjects must meet all the federal requirements. Charters may decide, for credentialing purposes only, which subjects they will define as “noncore.”

In the approaches outlined below, the role of the supervising teacher is retained. However, in some of the independent study approaches used in California's secondary schools, individual teachers are no longer responsible for teaching all core academic subjects. In most cases, this means that an individual student is taught by more than one teacher, often receiving instruction for specialized subjects in small groups, classrooms, or lab settings. In each of the approaches described below, when existing staff are not able to offer the full range of academic courses, students may take needed classes at a community college, comprehensive high school, or through online courses.

This document also provides a snapshot of various methods for delivering grade-level content via independent study. For an overview of the basic framework for a sound independent study approach, please review the Elements of Exemplary Independent Study.


The Specialized Teaching Approach

Students only take courses from teachers who have demonstrated subject matter competence in those courses. Schools vary in the number of courses that a student takes at a time and in the number of teachers that a student meets with (in person or by submitting work electronically). Schools using the specialized teaching approach include:

Mt. Everest Academy
San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County
Mike Rood, Principal

North Monterey County Unified School District, Monterey County
Aida Ramirez, Principal

Pacific Coast High School
Orange County Department of Education, Orange County
Machele Kilgore, Principal

The Mixed Strategy Approach

Schools use different delivery structures for different students depending on student need. Students may work with one or a number of teachers at a time, and delivery options may include classes, labs, small-group instruction, and one-on-one meetings. Schools using the mixed strategy teaching approach include:

Davis School for Independent Study
Davis Joint Unified School District, Yolo County
Laura Juanitas, Principal
530-757-5333 ext. 153

Independence High School
Roseville Joint Union High School District, Placer County
Debbie Latteri, Principal
916-786-0793 x 1301

North State Independence High School
Shasta Union High School District, Shasta County
Guy Malain, Principal

Summit View School
Riverside Unified School District, Riverside County
David Haglund, Principal

Tamiscal Independent Study High School
Tamalpais Union High School District, Marin County
Corbett Elsen, Principal

Approach for a Small Program Within a Comprehensive High School

Independent study instructors teach courses in which they are highly qualified and recruit classroom-based or retired teachers who are qualified to teach other courses on a part-time basis. Students take core courses that cannot be offered through independent study either in the classroom or through other institutions.

In this composite approach:



Questions: Dan Sackheim | | 916-445-5595 
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