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Independent Study - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

Independent study is an alternative to classroom instruction consistent with the district's course of study and is not an alternative curriculum. It is an optional instructional strategy in which no pupil may be required to participate. 5 California Code of Regulations Section 11700. Independent study can be part of, be separate from, or be in addition to a regular classroom program and affords students the opportunity to acquire the values, skills, and knowledge to be successful in achieving the individual goals set out in their independent study agreement.

The independent study instructional strategy is meant to respond to the student’s specific educational needs, interests, aptitudes, and abilities within the confines of board policy. As a recognized alternative to regular classroom study, independent study is expected to be of equal or superior quality to classroom instruction.

“Attendance” for apportionment in independent study is earned based on the Independent Study Modalities being offered by the local educational agency (LEA) and not on “seat-time.” In traditional independent study, a time value is assigned to student work products as determined by the teacher. Students in course-based independent study earn attendance if all of the certified course requirements are met and the student is making satisfactory progress.

The flexibility of independent study makes it possible to serve a wide variety of students, permitting some students who otherwise might not graduate to stay in school. Students who enroll in independent study include students who have health concerns, are parents, need to work, and are child actors or aspiring Olympic athletes. Additionally, independent study serves students who desire to accelerate or move more slowly through a course, to make up a subject that they have missed in a regular classroom, or who simply prefer an alternative to classroom instruction.

Independent study is available to students from transitional kindergarten through high school, as well as students in adult school who are taking courses to meet the requirements for a high school diploma. The LEAs that offer independent study must ensure that the LEAs-adopted curriculum is followed, and that all work is governed by an independent study agreement signed by the student, teacher, parent, and others with direct responsibility for providing assistance to the student.

Questions:   Independent Study | independentstudy@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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