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English Learners Independent Study FAQs

Responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding English learners participating in an independent study program.
  1. Are English learners eligible to participate in independent study? (10/12/021)

    Yes. For the 2021-2022 school year, school districts and county offices of education are required to offer an independent study option to all pupils. Education Code (EC) 51745(a).

    For additional information, see Are all pupils eligible to participate in independent study?
  2. Is designated English language development (ELD) instruction required for English learners participating in an independent study program? (10/12/21)

    Yes. English learners participating in an independent study program must continue to receive designated and integrated ELD as part of their educational curriculum (Education Code [EC] Section 51745[a]; California Code of Regulations [CCR] Section 11309). Also note that the local educational agency (LEA) is required to maintain a current written agreement for each independent study student that includes a statement detailing the academic and other supports which will be provided to address the needs of English learners (EC sections 51747 [g][7]; 51749.6[a][5]).

  3. Is designated ELD required as a part of the regular school day? (10/12/21)

    Yes. California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 11300(a) states that designated ELD is “instruction provided during a time set aside in the regular school day…”. Designated ELD is part of the core curriculum for an English learner, which is taught during an instructional day. Independent study courses are to be of the same rigor, educational quality, and intellectual challenge substantially equivalent to in-person instruction and equivalent classroom-based courses, and shall be aligned to all relevant local and state content standards (Education Code [EC] sections 51747[c]; 51749.5 [a][4][A]).

    For additional information, see What information should be included in the written agreement addressing the needs of pupils not performing at grade level or requiring other supports?
  4. Is there a minimum number of minutes required for ELD instruction for a student doing independent study? (10/12/21)

    No. Although there is no minimum number of minutes of ELD instruction required, ELD is a required course of study for all English learners and instruction is to be provided according to the student’s need and proficiency level. ELD is to be provided as any other core subject matter and given sufficient time for students to make progress toward English proficiency whether in-person or as part of independent study.

  5. Is a certificated independent study teacher required to have an English learner (EL) authorization to provide instruction to English learners? (10/12/21)

    Yes. The requirement for an EL authorization does not change. For English learners to have access to quality education, instruction is to be provided by teachers who have the essential skills and knowledge related to ELD, specially designed content instruction delivered in English, and content instruction delivered in the students’ primary languages (20 United States Code Section 6826 [c]; Education Code [EC] sections 44253.1–7, 44253.10; California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 11309[c][2]).

    For additional information, see What are the credentials required for teachers providing independent study instruction?
  6. How can educators ensure equity of access for English learners who receive ELD instruction through independent study? (10/12/21)

    The independent study option is to be substantially equivalent in quality and intellectual challenge as in-person instruction. Students who choose independent study are to have the same access to all existing services and resources in the school in which the student is enrolled as is available to all other students in the school (Education Code [EC] sections 51746, 51747[c], 51749.5[a][4][A]).

    Some strategies to accomplish this include:

    • Provide a designated time for designated and integrated ELD instruction within distance learning, in-person instruction, or an independent study schedule for English learners.
    • Emphasize the importance of building scaffolds to continue providing integrated ELD within core subjects.
    • Consider a hybrid model for at-home learning (virtual learning along with assignment packets or work).
    • Provide guidance on how and where to secure internet access.
  7. Is there a specific curriculum required for designated and integrated ELD instruction in an independent study program? (10/12/21)

    No. This requirement has not changed. Local educational agencies still have the flexibility to determine the curriculum used for ELD instruction. Recommendations for determining use of ELD curriculum follows:

    • Identify materials (sets of student text books, workbooks, etc.) to be used and/or send home.
    • Determine if the current curriculum has a digital designated and integrated ELD component.
    • Consider digital subscriptions the district may already have and make those available.
    • Contact publishers and vendors to request free full-access to available components that support virtual learning or an independent study program.
  8. How can teachers effectively provide designated and integrated ELD instruction as part of independent study? (10/12/21)

    Teachers can continue to use the California English Language Development Standards (CA ELD Standards) to help guide the development of designated and integrated ELD instruction and instructional material (Education Code [EC] Section 60811). Specifically, pages 18–24 (Proficiency Level Descriptors) in the CA ELD Standards may be helpful. The CA ELD Standards are available on the California Department of Education (CDE) ELD Standards web page. Also, see question 6, above.

    Independent study information, resources, and FAQs are available on the CDE Independent Study web page. Although distance learning is no longer an available instructional method effective 2021–22, the resources for ELD instruction provided on the CDE web pages entitled Resources that Support Distance Learning and Free Educational Resources for Distance Learning that were posted to support instruction in 2020–21 may be referenced for implementing ELD instruction through independent study. These resources are not exhaustive. Additional independent study resources may be available through your local county office of education, local educational agency, or community partners.
  9. May ELD instruction be taught through synchronous instruction in an independent study program? (10/12/21)

    Yes. Local educational agencies (LEAs) have broad discretion over instructional methods used as part of independent study. For short-term independent study, fewer than 15 days, LEAs are encouraged to develop instructional plans that ensure continuity and connection to in-person instruction and are not prohibited from immediately offering synchronous instruction and live interaction, including but not limited to integrated and designated ELD. For long-term independent study, 15 days or more, integrated and designated ELD instruction can be provided to English learners during the minimum daily synchronous instruction time as provided in statute. For transitional kindergarten and grades 1 to 3, LEAs must have a plan to provide opportunities for daily synchronous instruction throughout the school year. For grades 4 to 8, LEAs must have a plan to provide for both daily live interaction and weekly synchronous instruction throughout the school year. For grades 9 to 12, LEAs must have a plan to provide weekly synchronous instruction throughout the school year (Education Code [EC] sections 51747[e]; 51749.5[a][4][C]). Integrated and designated ELD can be provided during synchronous instruction or live interaction. Additional synchronous instruction could also be included in the independent study written agreement for an English learner.

    Keep in mind that oral language is a key component of ELD and the more opportunities English learners have to interact with and receive timely feedback from teachers, peers, and others, the greater the probability of progressing proficiency levels. LEAs have the flexibility to design the services they provide to English learners within these parameters.

    For additional information on short-term and long-term independent study, see Independent Study for 2021–22.
  10. How can educators ensure equity of access for multilingual students participating in an independent study program? (10/12/21)

    Bilingual, dual language, and other language acquisition programs can continue to be part of an independent study program. Independent study programs provide opportunities to deepen and capitalize on students’ use of the home language. To ensure student success, the local educational agency should design culturally responsive lessons. Students and families may need primary language literacy resources. Also, see question 7, above, for educational resources.

Questions:   Language Policy and Leadership Office | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Friday, December 29, 2023