Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

2021–22 AA & IT Independent Study FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the independent study offering requirement, waivers, instructional time (IT), and attendance accounting (AA).

The distance learning statutes established in Senate Bill (SB) 98 (Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) and SB 820 (Chapter 110, Statutes of 2020) became inoperative on June 30, 2021. All of the instructional time and attendance accounting requirements in place prior to fiscal year (FY) 2020–21 are back in effect for FY 2021–22. As in years prior to FY 2020–21, local educational agencies (LEAs) must meet the requirements of independent study in order to generate average daily attendance (ADA) for students not scheduled for physical in-person instruction.

Assembly Bill (AB) 130 (Chapter 44, Statutes of 2021) was passed and approved by the Governor on July 9, 2021. Although AB 130 did not change the method used to generate a day of attendance for apportionment purposes in independent study, AB 130 made changes to independent study program requirements that are conditions of apportionment effective for the 2021–22 fiscal year. The following FAQs are intended to provide LEAs with an overview of changes to independent study apportionment, instructional time and attendance accounting requirements for FY 2021–22 and future years.

Independent Study Offering and Waiver | Instructional Time and Independent Study | Attendance Accounting and Reporting

Additional FAQs regarding independent study programs and requirements are available on the California Department of Education's (CDE) Independent Study web page.

Independent Study Offering and Waiver

  1. Does an LEA have to offer Independent Study in the 2021–22 school year to all students in all grade levels?
    For the 2021–22 school year, all school districts and county offices of education (COEs) are required to offer an independent study option as an alternative to in-person instruction. This requirement does not apply to charter schools.  For school districts unable to offer an independent study program, this requirement may also be met by contracting with a COE or by entering into an interdistrict transfer agreement with another school district pursuant to Education Code (EC) Section 46600. In the instance that a school district or COE cannot meet the offering requirement, that school district or COE may request a waiver. School districts may submit a waiver request to the COE pursuant to EC 51745(g). COEs and single district counties may submit a waiver request to the CDE.
  2. What are the options for a school district or county office of education (COE) if they are unable to offer independent study to all grade levels that they serve in 2021–22? (06-August-2021)
    School districts that are unable to offer independent study to all grade levels that they serve can enter into an interdistrict transfer agreement with another school district in the same or an adjacent county to provide independent study to the students that reside in the district’s boundaries. School districts may also enter into a contract with their COE or an adjacent COE to provide independent study to the students that reside in the district’s boundaries.

    A school district may apply for a waiver if it demonstrates both of the following:

    • Offering independent study would create an unreasonable fiscal burden due to low numbers of pupils participating or other extenuating circumstances, and
    • The school district does not have the option to enter into an interdistrict transfer agreement with another school district or to contract with its COE or an adjacent COE to offer independent study.

    COEs that are unable to offer independent study to all grade levels that they serve can enter into a contract with a school district or an adjacent COE to provide independent study to the students of the COE seeking the contract.

    A COE may apply for a waiver if it demonstrates that the offering of independent study would cause an unreasonable fiscal burden and is unable to enter into a contract with a school district or an adjacent COE to offer independent study.
  3. May school districts or COEs enter into contracts with a charter school for the charter school to provide independent study to students enrolled in the district or COE to fulfill the independent study offering requirement? (09-August-2021)
    No. EC Section 51745(f) specifies that in order to meet the requirement to offer independent study in the 2021–22 school year, school districts or COEs may contract with a COE or enter into an interdistrict attendance agreement with a school district. Because the Education Code specifies the only entities with which they can contract, school districts and COEs may not enter into contracts with charter schools or private companies to provide independent study to students of the district or county in order to meet the district or county’s obligation to provide independent study.
  4. Can a school district apply for a waiver for the independent study offering requirement in the 2021–22 school year? (06-August-2021)
    Yes. A school district may apply for a waiver if it demonstrates both of the following:
    • Offering independent study would create an unreasonable fiscal burden due to low numbers of pupils participating or other extenuating circumstances, and
    • The school district does not have the option to enter into an interdistrict transfer agreement with another school district or to contract with its COE or an adjacent COE to offer independent study.
    • Can a COE apply for a waiver for the independent study offering requirement for the 2021–22 school year? (06-August-2021)
      Yes. A COE may apply for a waiver if it demonstrates both of the following:
      • Offering independent study would create an unreasonable fiscal burden on the COE due to the low numbers of pupils participating or other extenuating circumstances.
      • The COE does not have the option to contract with a school district or an adjacent COE to offer independent study.
    • What level of approval is required for a waiver of the independent study offering requirement? (06-August-2021)
      School districts seeking a waiver of the independent study offering requirement must submit a waiver request to their COE. School districts seeking a waiver should contact their COE regarding the submission of a waiver request.

      COEs and school districts in single-district counties seeking a waiver must submit a waiver request to the CDE. Waiver requests must be submitted in the form of a letter which includes justification and substantiation for the request.
    • If a school district or COE has received a waiver of the requirement to offer independent study pursuant to Education Code (EC) 51745(g), is the school district or COE required to provide notice to parents of the option for independent study pursuant to EC 51747(h)? (09-August-2021)
      No, an LEA does not have to notify parents if there is no independent study option available. However, if a school district has entered into an interdistrict attendance agreement with another school district in the county or in an adjacent county or contracted with its COE or an adjacent COE, the school district is required to provide notice to parents that they have the option to enroll in independent study in another school district or COE. For parent notification for COE served students, if a COE has entered into a contract with an adjacent COE or school district within the county or an adjacent county, the COE is required to provide notice to parents of the independent study enrollment options.

    Instructional Time and Independent Study

    1. Are there changes to instructional time requirements for 2021–22? (06-August-2021)
      The annual instructional minute requirements for all LEAs were suspended for the 2020–21 school year only. These annual minute requirements are back in effect for the 2021–22 school year. For 2021–22 and future fiscal years, all students are required to be offered at least the minimum number of annual instructional minutes and days that apply to their grade level and setting.

      School districts and COEs continue to be required to schedule all students for at least the minimum day each day as applicable to that student’s grade level and setting. Although charter schools have to meet annual instructional minute and day requirements, charter schools do not have a specific minimum number of instructional minutes that must be met each day.

      All students participating in independent study must be offered the required number of annual minutes and days as well. School district and COE students in traditional independent study must have their work product evaluated for time value by a certificated teacher and must have the equivalent of at least a minimum days’ worth of work product for each day that traditional independent study attendance is claimed. School district and COE students in course based independent study (CBIS) must be enrolled in sufficient courses to meet minimum day requirements.

      Charter school students in traditional independent study must have their work product evaluated as well. Since charter schools do not have a minimum day requirement, the work product must be equivalent to a days’ worth of work as determined by an appropriately certificated teacher. Charter schools must also have records of student engagement for each day of attendance claimed for each student for both traditional and course based independent study.
    2. Do the minutes of “synchronous instruction” provided to students count toward minimum day requirements, or does only student work product count toward minimum day requirements as in existing law? (09-August-2021)
      For traditional independent study, in order to include synchronous instruction in instructional time calculations, students must have a work product evaluated for time value as an outcome from their participation in synchronous instruction.

      For course based independent study (CBIS), work product is not factored into time value. Time value is established for each course through the course certification process. Minimum day requirements are met for course based independent study on the basis of being scheduled for a sufficient number of courses to meet minimum day requirements.
    3. Is there a minimum number of minutes or hours of synchronous instruction or live interaction that must be provided to students in independent study? (06-August-2021)
      No. Statute does not specify a minimum number of minutes or hours of synchronous instruction or live interaction that must be provided to students participating in independent study. 
    4. The law specifies that independent study synchronous instruction be provided by the teacher of record. For high school students, must the instruction be provided by the general supervising teacher or can it be provided by any credentialed teacher involved with the student’s educational program? (09-August-2021)
      EC Section 51747.5 references both the supervising teacher who coordinates, evaluates and generally supervises the student and the certificated teacher(s) that evaluate student work product for time value. Any of these certificated employees of the LEA can be considered a teacher of record for the purpose of providing synchronous instruction.

    Attendance Accounting and Reporting

    1. Now that distance learning statutes have sunset, how would a school district or COE generate attendance for students participating in virtual learning in 2021–22 and future years? (06-August-2021)
      The Education Code does not define virtual instruction. Students generate attendance for funding purposes either under the immediate physical supervision of a certificated teacher or through independent study. As has been the case for a number of years, if students are participating in virtual or online instruction and are not under the immediate physical supervision of a certificated employee while doing so, attendance for apportionment must be generated through independent study.
    2. Is there a limit to the amount of ADA that can be claimed for funding in independent study for 2021–22? (06-August-2021)
      Statute does not limit the number of students that can be served in independent study. Statute does, however have some limits on the independent study ADA that can be funded and on which students are eligible to generate independent study ADA.

      The limits to the ADA that can be funded are as follows:
      • There is a 10 percent cap on independent study ADA generated by students in an opportunity school or a continuation high school. A student who is pregnant or is a parent who is the primary caregiver for one or more of their children is not included within the 10 percent cap.
      • Pursuant to EC Section 51745.6 External link opens in new window or tab. there are independent study ADA to full time equivalent (FTE) ratio requirements that may limit ADA that can be claimed for apportionment. If the ratio of independent study ADA to FTE certificated employees responsible for independent study exceeds an LEA’s comparative ratio, the result is excess ADA. Excess ADA cannot generate funding.
        • More information about the continuation and opportunity education ADA cap and the independent study ratio calculations is available on the CDE’s Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page.
      • LEAs that participate in the course based independent study program must compute ADA for each student enrolled, in accordance with EC Section 51749.5(b) External link opens in new window or tab. . If the total course based independent study (CBIS) ADA is greater than 10 percent of total ADA of the LEA, any CBIS ADA above 10 percent must be reduced by the statewide absence rate. The statewide absence rate is made available on the CDE’s 2019–20 Funding Rates and Information web page along with a sample calculation.
      • Finally, charter schools with less than 80 percent classroom-based ADA require a State Board of Education approved funding determination to be eligible to receive funding for nonclassroom-based ADA.


      There are some limitations on generating ADA based on age, the setting in which a student is served, and/or the services needed by the student. These limitations are as follows:

      • Students must fall within age eligibility requirements
      • Continuously Enrolled: 21 years of age (School District/COE)
        • Not continuously enrolled: 19 years of age (School District/COE/Charter)
        • Continuously Enrolled: 22 years of age (Charter)
      • Students cannot generate home and hospital attendance through independent study.
      • Individualized education programs for students with exceptional needs must specifically provide for independent study participation.
      • Independent study participation must be voluntary and all students must have a classroom option.
      • Students expelled cannot be placed on independent study without being offered the alternative of classroom instruction.
      • For school districts, students must be enrolled in a school within the district as well as the independent study program.
      • Students enrolled in a district pursuant to an interdistrict transfer due to parent employment cannot generate average daily attendance through independent study.
      • Students must reside in the county or adjacent county.
      • Community day school students cannot generate ADA through independent study.
    3. Are there any changes to the independent ratio calculation requirements for FY 2021–22? (06-August-2021)
      No. The ADA to full time equivalent (FTE) teacher ratio requirements remain the same for all local educational agencies. The calculation methodology remains the same as well. Independent study statute was amended with clarifying language requiring auditors to verify ratio calculations during the annual audit process.

      For more information regarding ADA to FTE ratio calculations and instruction for performing the calculations please refer to the CDE’s Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page.
    4. Does AB 130 change how a day of attendance for apportionment is earned by an LEA for traditional independent study or course based independent study (CBIS)? (06-August-2021)
      No. Although AB 130 adds a significant number of programmatic conditions that must be met to in order to ensure funding based on independent study ADA, a day of attendance for apportionment is still earned based on the following attendance accounting methodology:
      Traditional Independent Study ADA
      Appropriately certificated teachers evaluate completed assignments turned in by the assignment’s due date and award attendance credit based on their determination of the time value of the work.

      Completed assignments representing more attendance days for the assignment period may not be "banked" for future use or applied to earlier assignment periods. Late independent study work may not be credited against earlier assignment periods.

      LEAs report attendance for students in independent study using the LEA’s attendance system as they would for students in classroom-based programs. However, there will be a delay in reporting independent study attendance since the attendance cannot be reported until the student submits the completed assignments and the teacher determines the time value of that work.
      School district and COE Traditional Independent Study Attendance Reporting:
      • School districts and COEs must use the time value method of attendance accounting. EC Section 51747.5(b).
      • A school district or COE can claim a full day’s attendance for completed independent study student work if a credentialed teacher determines the time value of that work is equal to at least a “minimum day.”
      • A minimum day varies depending on grade level.
      • For continuation education, independent study is assigned in hours, not minimum day values, and it is not necessary for a student to complete the full three hours for the district to claim apportionment. If the student is assigned 15 hours of work for a five-day week, and completes two-thirds of the work, the district can claim 10 hours.
      • School districts and COEs must keep a daily or hourly attendance credit register, as appropriate to the program in which the students are enrolled, separate from classroom attendance records, and maintained on a current basis as time values of student work products are personally judged by a certificated teacher, and reviewed by the supervising teacher if they are two different persons. California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) 11703(b)(4).
      • Prior to reporting attendance for the second principal apportionment (P-2), LEAs must perform independent study ratio calculations to determine if excess ADA needs to be deducted from reported ADA. For detailed information and instructions for performing independent study ratio calculations, please refer to the Independent Study Ratio Calculations.
      Charter School Traditional Independent Study Attendance Reporting:
      • Charter schools must use the time value method of attendance accounting in EC Section 51747.5(b).
      • There is no minimum day for charter schools, but charter schools must meet the requirements for annual instructional minutes. EC sections 46201 and 47612.5(a)(1)(A–D).
      • The minimum amount of work necessary to constitute a day of nonclassroom-based attendance is within the charter school's and teacher's discretion to determine. Nonetheless, whatever that minimum amount of work is, it must be done on the scheduled school day for which it is claimed as attendance for ADA purposes.
      • Charter schools must comply with independent study laws and regulations. EC Section 47612.5(b).
      • Charter schools must keep a daily attendance credit register, as appropriate to the program in which the students are enrolled, separate from classroom attendance records, and maintained on a current basis as time value of work products are personally judged by a certificated teacher, and reviewed by the supervising teacher if they are two different persons. 5 CCR 11703(b)(4).
      • EC Section 47612.5(a)(2) states that charter schools must “maintain written contemporaneous records that document all student attendance and make these records available for audit and inspection.” A “daily engagement log” (tracking each student’s daily engagement in educational activities for each day school is in session) is required by 5 CCR 11960.
      • Prior to reporting attendance for P-2, LEAs must perform independent study ratio calculations to determine if excess ADA needs to be deducted from reported ADA. For detailed information and instructions for performing independent study ratio calculations please refer to the Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page.
      CBIS ADA
      CBIS attendance credit is based on enrollment and satisfactory educational progress in courses certified annually by the local governing board. The annual course certification must meet the statutory requirements pursuant to EC Section 51749.5(a)(4) which include requirements for rigor, educational quality, equity, alignment to standards, and certification to instructional time and course credits as well as a plan for providing opportunities for synchronous instruction to all grade levels and live interaction to grades four through eight.

      As required in EC Section 51749.5(b), students in CBIS must meet minimum day requirements to generate attendance. The minimum day can be met through CBIS courses or a combination of CBIS courses and traditional independent study or a combination of CBIS courses and in-person instruction.

      All LEAs with CBIS programs must compute ADA for each student enrolled. If the total CBIS ADA is greater than 10 percent of total LEA ADA, any CBIS ADA above 10 percent must be reduced by the statewide absence rate, available on the CDE’s Funding Rates and Information web page for each applicable fiscal year.

      In addition, similar to traditional independent study requirements, LEAs offering CBIS must compute the ratio of independent study students to full-time equivalent certificated employees responsible for independent study and the comparative ratio for all other educational programs, pursuant to EC Section 51745.6 and the Independent Study Ratio Calculation instructions provided on the CDE’s Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page. These calculations help LEAs determine whether they have any excess ADA that cannot be claimed for funding. 
    5. Did AB 130 change the minimum number of consecutive instructional days that a school district or COE student must participate in independent study in order to generate ADA? (06-August-2021)

      Yes. AB 130 reduced the minimum number of consecutive days that a student must participate in traditional and or course based independent study in order to generate ADA from five consecutive school days to three consecutive school days (EC Section 46300(e)(1)). This requirement does not apply to charter schools.

    6. Are there any new requirements of traditional independent study that could affect apportionment funding? (06-August-2021)

      Yes. In addition to meeting the requirements to generate ADA, which have not changed, LEAs must comply with multiple conditions of apportionment in order to avoid audit findings and losses of ADA based funding. Pursuant to AB 130 and effective with the 2021–22 fiscal year, traditional independent study programs must include additional programmatic safeguards. Many of these additional programmatic safeguards are also conditions of apportionment.

      Required additions to adopted and implemented independent study board policies include:

      • Satisfactory progress as an added means to evaluate continued independent study participation and placement.
      • Provision of standards aligned content in independent study that is substantially equivalent to the quality and intellectual challenge of in-person instruction.
      • For high schools, a provision for access to all courses offered by the LEA for graduation and approved by the University of California or the California State University as creditable under the A–G admissions criteria.
      • Procedures for tiered reengagement strategies.
      • A plan to provide opportunities for synchronous instruction for all grade levels, and live interaction for grades four through eight.
      • A plan to transition pupils whose families wish to return to in-person instruction from traditional independent study expeditiously, and not later than five instructional days.
      • For 2021–22 only, notification, including written notification on LEA websites to parents or guardians of options to enroll students in in-person instruction or independent study and the right to request a student-parent-educator conference prior to enrollment in independent study.
        • If, based on prior year census data submitted to the CDE, 15 percent or more of the pupils enrolled in an LEA that serves any of grades TK/K-12 speak a primary language other than English, the written information should also be in that primary language.
      • Provision for holding a student-parent-educator conference at the request of the student’s parent or guardian prior to enrolling in independent study.


      Required additions to traditional independent study written agreements include:

      • The manner, time, frequency, and place for communicating with a pupil’s parent or guardian regarding academic progress.
      • The inclusion of confirming or providing access to all pupils to the connectivity and devices adequate for participation and completion of work in the specific resources made available to the pupil.
      • The level of satisfactory educational progress that would trigger an evaluation of whether or not the pupil should be allowed to continue in independent study.
      • A detailed statement of academic and other supports provided to address the needs of pupils not performing at grade level, or needed support in other areas such as English learners, individuals with exceptional needs in order to be consistent with the pupil’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan, pupils in foster care, pupils experiencing homelessness, and pupils requiring mental health supports.
      • A provision for electronic signatures if an LEA chooses to make use of electronic signatures for written agreements.


      Additional requirements to be reviewed for compliance that could result in the loss of apportionment if not met are:

      • Documentation of participation and non-participation in synchronous instruction and live interaction.
      • Maintenance of evidence of pupil engagement by listing all assignments, assessments, and associated grades for students in independent study.
    7. When do the new apportionment significant requirements for independent study need to be met to avoid negative impacts to ADA based funding? (06-August-2021)

      The requirements of independent study must be in place upon commencement of independent study instruction, with the exception of signed written agreements. For the 2021–22 fiscal year, LEAs have until 30 days from the first day of instruction to get all signatures on independent study written agreements.

      In 2022–23 and future fiscal years, all independent study requirements including dated signatures on written agreements must be in place upon or prior to commencement of independent study instruction.

    8. Are teachers employed by a vendor included in ADA to full time equivalent (FTE) teacher ratio calculations for traditional independent study? (24-August-2021)

      No. The FTE teacher calculation for independent study ratios is based on certificated LEA employees who provide independent study instruction. EC 51745.6 and California Code of Regulations, Title V Section 11700(a).

      During the annual audit process, auditors must verify ratio calculations. EC 51745.6(e).

      For more information regarding ADA to FTE ratio calculations and instruction for performing the calculations please refer to the Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page.

    9. Are teachers employed by a vendor included in ADA to FTE ratio calculations for CBIS? (24-August-2021)

      No. The FTE calculation for CBIS ratios is based on certificated LEA employees. EC 51749.5(a)(13) and California Code of Regulations, Title V Section 11700(a).

      During the annual audit process, auditors must verify CBIS ratio calculations. EC 51749.5(f).

      For more information regarding ADA to FTE ratio calculations and instruction for performing the calculations please refer to the Independent Study Ratio Calculations web page.

    10. Can a teacher employed by a vendor be a teacher for traditional independent study or CBIS? (24-August-2021)

      No. The teacher for traditional independent study must be a certificated employee of the school district, COE, or charter school in which the student is enrolled. EC Section 51747.5 and California Code of Regulations, Title V Section 11700(j).

      The teacher for CBIS must hold the appropriate subject matter credential and be an employee of the LEA at which the pupil is enrolled or by an LEA that has a memorandum of understanding to provide the instruction. EC 51749.5(a)(3).

    Questions:   Principal Apportionment Section | attendanceaccounting@cde.ca.gov | 916-324-4541
    Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
    Recently Posted in Allocations & Apportionments
    • Education Protection Account, Fiscal Year 2021–22 (added 10-Sep-2021)
      Distribution of 2021–22 Education Protection Account (EPA) funds to local educational agencies in accordance with Section 36 of Article XIII of the Constitution of the State of California.
    • EPA Payment Letter, FY 21–22 Q1 (added 10-Sep-2021)
      First Quarter Apportionment for the Education Protection Account, Fiscal Year 2021–22.
    • Charter 20 Day Instructions, FY 2021–22 (added 08-Sep-2021)
      Charter School 20 Day Attendance Report (Charter 20 Day) instructions for fiscal year (FY) 2021–22.
    • Frequently Asked Questions: Dual Enrollment (added 02-Sep-2021)
      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the instructional time and attendance accounting requirements for dual enrollment.
    • County Safe Schools for All (added 25-Aug-2021)
      Funding in support of the Safe Schools for All program for the purpose of strengthening local efforts for the reopening and operation of schools providing in-person instruction as established in Sec 7 of AB 86 (Ch 10, Statutes of 2021).