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Atascadero USD |  AR  6158  Instruction

Independent Study   

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No course required for high school graduation shall be offered exclusively through independent study. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 6146.1 - High School Graduation Requirements/Standards of Proficiency)

The district shall not provide independent study students and their parents/ guardians with funds or items of value that are not provided for other students and their parents/guardians. (Education Code 46300.6, 51747.3)


No student shall be required to participate in independent study. (Education Code 51747)

Students enrolling in independent study must be residents of the local county or an adjacent county. (Education Code 51747.3)

Full-time independent study shall not be available to students whose district residency status is based on their parent/guardian's employment within district boundaries pursuant to Education Code 48204. (Education Code 51747.3)

(cf. 5111.12 - Residency Based on Parent/Guardian Employment)

No individual with disabilities, as defined in Education Code 56026, may participate in independent study unless his/her Individualized Education Program specifically provides for such participation. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 6159 - Individualized Education Program)

No temporarily disabled student may receive individual instruction pursuant to Education Code 48206.3 by means of independent study. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 6183 - Home and Hospital Instruction)

No more than 10 percent of the students enrolled in a continuation high school or opportunity school or program, not including pregnant and parenting students who are primary caregivers for one or more of their children, may be in independent study at any given time. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 5146 - Married/Pregnant/Parenting Students)

(cf. 6184 - Continuation Education)

Students age 21 or older, and students age 19 or older who have not been continuously enrolled in school since their 18th birthday, may participate in independent study through the adult education program for the purpose of enrolling in courses required for a high school diploma by Education Code 51225.3 or the Board of Trustees. (Education Code 46300.1, 46200.4)

(cf. 6200 - Adult Education)

Criteria for Participation

Students who are interested in independent study should contact the independent study school principal. Approval for participation shall be based on the following criteria:

1. Evidence that the student will work independently to complete the program

2. Availability of experienced certificated staff with adequate time to supervise the student effectively

Master Agreement

A written agreement shall be developed and implemented for each student participating in independent study for five or more consecutive school days. (Education Code 46300, 51747; 5 CCR 11703)

The agreement shall include general student data, including the student's name, address, grade level, birth date, school of enrollment, and program placement.

The written independent study agreement for each participating student shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following: (Education Code 51747)

1. The manner, frequency, time and place for submitting the student's assignments and for reporting his/her progress.

2. The objectives and methods of study for the student's work, and the methods used to evaluate that work.

3. The specific resources, including materials and personnel that will be made available to the student.

4. The district's independent study policy describing the maximum length of time allowed between an assignment and its completion and the number of missed assignments, which will trigger an evaluation of whether the student should be allowed to continue in independent study.

5. The duration of the independent study agreement, including the beginning and ending dates for the student's participation in independent study under the agreement, with a maximum of one school year.

6. A statement of the number of course credits or, for the elementary grades, other measures of academic accomplishment appropriate to the agreement, to be earned by the student upon completion.

7. A statement that independent study is an optional educational alternative in which no student may be required to participate.

8. In the case of a suspended or expelled student who is referred or assigned to any school, class, or program pursuant to Education Code 48915 or 48917, a statement that instruction may be provided through independent study only if the student is offered the alternative of classroom instruction

(cf. 5144.1 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)

9. Signatures of the student, the parent/guardian or caregiver of the student if the student is under age 18 years, the certificated employee responsible for the general supervision of independent study, and all persons who have direct responsibility for providing assistance to the student

The parent/guardian's signature on the agreement shall constitute permission for the student to receive instruction through independent study.

The signed, dated agreement may be maintained on file electronically. (Education Code 51747)

The curriculum and methods of study specified in the written agreement shall be consistent with the Board of Trustees' policies, administrative regulations and procedures for curriculum and instruction. (5 CCR 11702)

(cf. 6143 - Courses of Study)

The agreement also may include a schedule for achieving objectives and completing the agreement and a schedule of conferences between the student and supervising teacher.

Before beginning the independent study, each written agreement shall be signed and dated by the student, the parent/guardian or caregiver of the student under 18 years of age, the certificated employee designated as responsible for the general supervision of independent study, and all persons who have direct responsibility for providing assistance to the student. (Education Code 51747)

The agreement shall state that the parent/guardian's signature confers his/her permission for the student's independent study as specified in the agreement.

Monitoring Student Progress

Students participating in independent study shall have the right, continuously, to enter or return to the regular classroom mode of instruction.

Independent study students who are late, miss scheduled conferences or do not submit assigned work on time shall not be reported as tardy or truant. However, the independent study administrator shall promptly and directly address any failure by the student to meet the terms of his/her written agreement. The following supportive strategies may be used:

1. A letter to the student and/or parent/guardian, as appropriate

2. A special meeting between the student and the teacher and/or counselor

3. A meeting between the student and the administrator, including the parent/guardian if appropriate

4. An increase in the amount of time the student works under direct supervision

When the student has missed the number of assignments specified in Board policy as requiring an evaluation, the Superintendent or designee shall conduct an evaluation to determine whether or not independent study is appropriate for the student. This evaluation may result in termination of the independent study agreement, and the student's return to a regular classroom program or other alternative instructional program.

A written record of the findings of any such evaluation shall be treated as a mandatory interim student record which shall be maintained for three years from the date of the evaluation. (Education Code 51747)

Independent study students who are late, miss scheduled conferences, or do not submit assigned work on time shall not be reported as tardy or truant.

Responsibilities of Independent Study Administrator

The responsibilities of the independent study administrator shall be to:

1. Ensure that the district's independent study option is operated in accordance with law, Board policy and administrative regulation

2. Approve the participation of students requesting independent study for a period exceeding five school days

3. Facilitate the completion of independent study written agreements

4. Approve all credits earned through independent study and forward the information to the appropriate staff so that the information becomes part of the student's record

5. Authorize the selection of staff who are assigned to supervise independent study

6. Supervise any staff assigned to independent study functions who are not regularly supervised by another administrator

7. Complete or coordinate the preparation of all necessary records and reports

8. Establish and maintain in a systematic manner all records required by law, Board policy and administrative regulation

9. Monitor enrollment in independent study to stay within prescribed limits and to maximize income to the district without compromising the educational quality of independent study

10. Develop and manage the budget for independent study

11. Obtain and maintain current information and skills required for the operation of an independent study strategy that meets established standards for the district's educational programs

12. Prepare and submit reports as required by the Board or Superintendent

13. Assure a smooth transition into and out of the independent study mode of instruction

Assignment and Responsibilities of Independent Study Teachers

Each student's independent study shall be coordinated, evaluated and carried out under the general supervision of a certificated employee who consents to the assignment. (Education Code 44865, 51747.5; CCR 11700)

The ratio of student average daily attendance for independent study students age 18 years or younger to full-time equivalent certificated employees responsible for independent study shall not exceed the equivalent ratio for all other education programs at the applicable grade span in the district, unless a new higher or lower grade span ratio for all other educational programs offered within the grade span is negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement or the district enters into a memorandum of understanding that indicates an existing collective bargaining agreement contains an alternative grade span ratio. (Education Code 51745.6)

The responsibilities of the supervising teacher shall include, but are not limited to:

1. Complete designated portions of the written agreement and add additional information to the written agreement when appropriate

2. Supervise and approve coursework and assignments

3. Design all lesson plans

4. Write the assignments for students

5. Assess all student work and assigning grades or other approved measures of achievement

6. Determine the time value of assigned work or work products completed and submitted by the student

7. Select and save with each agreement representative samples of the student's completed and evaluated assignments on a regular basis and not less than one sample per course per semester

8. Sign and complete the agreement when the student has reached his/her objectives or the agreement is terminated

9. Maintain records of student assignments showing the date the assignment is given and the date the assignment is due and files on a current basis


District records shall identify all students participating in independent study and shall specify the grade level, program placement and school in which each of these students is enrolled. (Education Code 51748)

Each school shall maintain records for the students at that school.

Records shall be maintained for audit purposes and shall include the following: (5 CCR 11703)

1. A copy of the Board policy, administrative regulation, and procedures related to independent study

2. A separate listing of the students and adult education students, by grade level, program and school, who have participated in independent study, identifying units of the curriculum attempted and units of the curriculum completed by students in grades K-8 and identifying course credits attempted by and awarded to students in grades 9-12 and in adult education, as specified in their written agreements

3. A file of all agreements, with representative samples, one per course per grading period, of each student's or adult education student's original work products bearing signed or initialed and dated notations by the supervising teacher indicating that he/she has personally evaluated the work or that he/she has personally reviewed the evaluations made by another certificated teacher

4. A daily or hourly attendance register, as appropriate to the program in which the students or adult education students are enrolled, separate from classroom attendance records, and maintained on a current basis as time values of student or adult education work products are personally judged by a certificated teacher, and reviewed by the supervising teacher if they are two different persons

The district also shall maintain a record of grades and other evaluations issued to each student for independent study assignments.

The signed, dated agreement, any supplemental agreement, assignment records, work samples, and attendance records may be maintained on file electronically. (Education Code 51747)


approved: March 7, 2000 Atascadero, California

revised: February 06, 2007

revised: November 17, 2015

revised: September 6, 2016