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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 is not an alternative curriculum. Independent study is governed by the California Education Code (EC) sections 51745–51749.6 External link opens in new window or tab..

2021–22 Changes to Independent Study

Assembly Bill 130 (Chapter 44, Statutes of 2021; approved on July 9, 2021) and AB 167 (Chapter 252, Statutes of 2021; approved on September 23, 2021) made substantive changes to independent study and, for the 2021–22 school year only, AB 130 requires school districts and county offices of education to offer independent study as an educational option (EC Section 51745).

Additional FAQs and other instructional time and attendance accounting resources are available on the California Department of Education (CDE) Instructional Time and Attendance Accounting web page.

The CDE has prepared an Independent Study Directory with contact information for the offices within CDE who are responsible for specific areas of independent study.

Program Summary
Provides information on the purpose, services, outcomes, funding, and students 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, parent, guardian, or caregiver. 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.


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 equal in quality and quantity to classroom instruction.

Questions:   Independent Study |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 1, 2021