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Legal Requirements for Independent Study

A comprehensive list of basic requirements for operating a legally compliant independent study program.

California Education Code (EC) Section 51747 requires that local educational agencies that claim apportionment for independent study must first adopt and implement written specified policies relating to independent study. The required written policies must be developed as specified in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 11701.

In addition to the required written policies, the following are legal requirements for apportionment:

  1. Every student engaged in independent study must be enrolled in a specified school of a school district or county office of education (EC Section 51748). This enrollment should be evident from the written agreement.
  2. The Average Daily Attendance (a.d.a.) for independent study must fall within the teacher-to-a.d.a. limits set by EC Section 51745.6 to be eligible for apportionment.
  3. Students who are age nineteen to twenty-one must have been continuously enrolled since their eighteenth birthday for their a.d.a. to be eligible for K–12 apportionments (EC Section 46300.1).
  4. No a.d.a. may be claimed from independent study until the written agreement is completed (EC sections 46300.7, 51747[c][8]).
  5. No a.d.a. is earned unless (i.e., "to the extent that") supervising teacher judgments of the time value of pupil or student work have been made personally in each instance (i.e., assignment) for each student engaged in independent study (EC Section 51747.5).
  6. No a.d.a. from independent study may be claimed by a district if it has provided any funds or other things of value to the student or his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver that the district does not provide to students who attend regular classes (EC Section 51747.3[a]).
  7. No a.d.a. is earned from the independent study of any student who resides outside the local county or the adjoining county (EC Section 51747.3[b]).

Charter Schools

Nonclassroom-Based Instruction
Additional requirements for independent study in charter schools.

Appendix A of the Independent Study Operations Manual

Appendix A (PDF) provides a detailed listing of the California Education Code sections and California Code of Regulations, Title 5 sections that govern independent study.

Contact Information

Programmatic matters

Dan Sackheim, Education Programs Consultant

Attendance accounting matters

Kim Clement, Fiscal Consultant
Fax: 916-327-4873

Questions: Dan Sackheim | | 916-445-5595 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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