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Independent Study

Provides key information and resources on independent study programs, including frequently asked questions and guidance for the provision of services.

Independent study is an alternative to classroom instruction consistent with a local educational agency’s (LEA) course of study and aligned with State content standards. The California Department of Education (CDE) has prepared an Independent Study Directory with contact information for different offices within the CDE who are responsible for specific areas of independent study.

For a summary of 2022–23 changes to independent study, please refer to the 2022–23 Changes to Independent Study.

Independent Study Frequently Asked Questions

The Independent Study Frequently Asked Questions have been update to reflect the changes to independent study.

Frequently asked questions with fiscal implications (i.e. average daily attendance, ratio requirements, instructional time, and other) are available on the Instructional Time and Attendance Accounting web page.

Independent Study Program Summary
Provides information on the purpose, services, outcomes, funding, and pupils served for independent study.

Participating in Independent Study

Independent study is available to pupils from transitional kindergarten through high school, and is designed to respond to the pupil’s unique educational needs, interests, aptitudes, and abilities within the confines of legal authority and school board policy. Pupils who participate in independent study have the same course requirements as pupils in regular classes.

Participation in independent study must always be the choice of the pupil, and the parent, guardian, or caregiver, if the pupil is under the age of eighteen. LEAs shall not require or otherwise obligate the pupil’s participation in an independent study program. To learn more about independent study options, contact your local school district or county office of education.

Legal Requirements
Provides basic requirements for operating a legally compliant independent study program. Independent study is governed by the California Education Code sections 51744–51749.6 External link opens in new window or tab..


Exemplary Independent Study

For many pupils, independent study is the educational option that enables them to most fully realize their potential. This alternative instructional strategy offers the flexibility to meet individual pupil needs, interests, and styles of learning. Independent study is not an alternative curriculum and independent study pupils are expected to meet the same educational objectives as all other pupils. By law, independent study education is to be substantially equivalent to classroom instruction.

Questions:   Independent Study |
Last Reviewed: Monday, September 26, 2022