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Legal Requirements for Independent Study

A list of basic requirements for operating a legally compliant independent study program.

California Education Code (EC) Section 51745–51749.6 External link opens in new window or tab. requires that local educational agencies (LEAs) that claim apportionment for independent study must first adopt and implement written policies relating to independent study. The required written policies must be developed as specified in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11701.

In addition to the required written policies, the following are legal requirements for apportionment:

  1. Every student engaged in independent study must be enrolled in a specified school of a school district or county office of education (EC Section 51748). This enrollment should be evident from the written agreement.
  2. The Average Daily Attendance (ADA) for independent study must fall within the teacher-to-ADA limits set by EC sections 51745.6 or 51749.5(b) to be eligible for apportionment.
  3. Students who are age nineteen to twenty-one must have been continuously enrolled since their eighteenth birthday for their ADA to be eligible for kindergarten through grade twelve apportionments (EC Section 46300.1).
  4. No ADA may be claimed from independent study until the written agreement is completed (EC sections 46300.7, 51747[g][9]), except that in the 2021–22 school year, LEAs have 30 days from the first day of independent study instruction to get all signatures on IS agreements.
  5. ADA may be claimed for independent study only to the extent of the time value of pupil work products, as personally judged in each instance by a certificated teacher employed by the LEA. (EC Section 51747.5).
  6. The LEAs may not claim ADA from independent study if it has provided any funds or other things of value to the student or his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver that the district does not provide to students who attend regular classes (EC Section 51747.3[a]).
  7. No ADA is earned from the independent study of any student who  meets residency requirements pursuant to subdivision (b) of EC Section 48204, where a parent or guardian is physically employed within the boundaries of that school district, but resides outside the school district boundaries (EC Section 51747.3[c]).
  8. See the California Department of Education’s Instructional Time and Attendance Accounting web page for additional independent study condition of apportionment requirements.
Questions:   Independent Study | independentstudy@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Friday, September 24, 2021
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