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Key Differences in Independent Study Modalities

Traditional Independent Study Course-based Independent Study

Traditional independent study is governed by California Education Code (EC) sections 51745–51747.5. The following are elements unique to this modality:

  • Attendance is earned based on the time value of assignments as judged by the supervising teacher employed by the local educational agency (LEA).
  • LEA’s shall document each pupil’s participation in live interaction and synchronous instruction.
  • Determination for the level of satisfactory educational progress and the number of missed assignments that will be allowed before an evaluation is conducted to determine whether it is in the best interests of the pupil to remain in independent study, or whether the pupil should return to the regular school program.
  • Procedures for tiered reengagement strategies for:

    1.  All pupils who are not generating attendance for more than three schooldays or 60 percent of the instructional days in a school week, or 10 percent of required minimum instructional time over four continuous weeks of a LEA’s approved instructional calendar;
    2. Pupils found not participatory pursuant to EC Section 51747.5 for more than the greater of three schooldays or 60 percent of the scheduled days of synchronous instruction in a school month, as applicable; or
    3. Pupils who are in violation of the independent study agreement.
Notification to parents or guardians of lack of participation within one schoolday of the recording of a nonattendance day or lack of participation.

Course-based independent study (CBIS) is governed by EC sections 51749.5–51749.6. The following requirements are unique to this modality:

  • Attendance credit is based on enrollment and satisfactory educational progress in annually certified courses. Certification shall include: 1) the duration of the course; 2) the number of equivalent daily instructional minutes for each enrolled schoolday; 3) number of equivalent total instructional minutes; 4) number of course credits for each course; and 5) a plan to provide opportunities for live interaction and synchronous instruction, as applicable
  • If satisfactory educational progress in one or more courses is not being made, certificated employees providing the instruction shall conduct an evaluation to determine whether it is in the best interest of the pupil to remain in the course(s) or whether the pupil should be referred to an alternative program.
  • Procedures for tiered reengagement strategies for all pupils who are not making satisfactory educational progress in one or more courses, or who are in violation of the written agreement.
  • Reporting of statewide testing results of pupils enrolled in CBIS, assigned to the school or charter school at which the pupil is enrolled, and to any school district, charter school, or county office of education within which that school’s or charter school’s testing results are aggregated.
  • Statewide testing results for pupils enrolled in CBIS shall be disaggregated for purposes of comparing the testing results of those pupils to the testing results of pupils enrolled in classroom-based courses.

  • In addition to the duration of the learning agreement, the agreement shall also include the duration of the enrolled course(s) and the number of course credits for each enrolled course consistent with the adopted certifications.
Courses are taught under the general supervision of certificated employees of the LEA at which the pupil is enrolled, or by a LEA that has a Memorandum of Understanding to provide the instruction in coordination with the LEA of enrollment.

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