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Escondido Union ESD |  BP  6158  Instruction

Independent Study   

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The Board of Education authorizes independent study as an optional alternative instructional strategy by which students in grades K-8 may reach curriculum objectives and fulfill promotion requirements. Independent study shall offer a means of individualizing the educational plan for students whose needs may be best met through study outside of the regular classroom setting. The district shall provide and ensure independent study students the same access to existing services and resources as are available to all other students in the school in which independent study students are enrolled. Independent study entails a commitment by both the parent/guardian and the student. As the student becomes older, he/she assumes a greater portion of the responsibility involved. The superintendent or designee shall determine that the prospective independent study student understands and is prepared to meet the district's requirements for independent study. Independent study may be offered only to students who can achieve in this program as well as, or better than, they would in the regular classroom.

(cf. 6143 - Courses of Study)

The board recognizes that independent study may be used as an option to encourage students to remain in school. Teachers should carefully set the duration of independent study assignments in order to help identify students falling behind in their work or in danger of failing or dropping out of school.

(cf. 5147 - Dropout Prevention)

To foster each student's success in independent study, the board establishes the following maximum lengths of time which may elapse between the time an assignment is made and date by which the student must complete the assigned work shall be as follows:

1. For students in grades K-3: one week

2. For students in grades 4-8: two weeks

3. For students in Home Education independent study in grades K-8: three weeks

At school sites, when circumstances justify a longer time, the superintendent or designee may honor the written request of an individual or his/her parent/guardian to extend the maximum length of an assignment as follows:

1. Grades K-3: four weeks

2. Grades 4-8: eight weeks

The superintendent or designee shall report to the board the number of students in each type of independent study program, the average daily attendance (ADA) generated, the quality of these students' work as measure by standard indicators, and the number and proportion of independent study students who graduate or successfully complete their program.

The superintendent or designee shall encourage parents/guardians desiring to teach their children at home to enroll their children in the full-time independent study program. Such enrollment allows continued contact and cooperation between the school system and home-based student.


Independent study is an optional educational alternative in which no student may be required to participate. Participation is voluntary. Instruction may be provided to the student through independent study only if the student is offered the alternative of classroom instruction. (Education Code 51747(c)(7))

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

Independent study shall not be available to students whose district residency status is based on their parent's/guardian's employment within district boundaries. (Education Code 51747.3(c))

All students participating in independent study must be enrolled in a specific school. (Education Code 51748)

No individual with exceptional needs, as defined in Education Code 56026, may participate in independent study unless his/her individualized education plan specifically provides for such participation. (Education Code 51745(c))

No temporarily disabled student may receive individual instruction pursuant to Education Code 48206.3 through independent study. (Education Code 51745(d))

Written Agreement and Contracts

The superintendent or designee shall ensure that each participating student has an executed written independent study agreement with the district, as prescribed by law, prior to the commencement of independent study. The agreement shall be between the student, parent/guardian/caregiver, certificated employee, and all other persons who provide direct assistance to the student. The written agreement with all of the required components must be on file for each independent study student. Individual independent study agreements and any subsidiary student contracts and assignments must be on file for each independent study student. Individual independent study agreements and any subsidiary student contracts and assignments must be consistent with the district's academic standards and course of study. The independent study agreement for a student must require and cover a study plan that represents not less than the equivalent of a minimum school day for the student's grade level for every school day covered by the agreement. (Education Code 51747)

For all students in independent study, the maximum length of time that may elapse between the time the assignment is made and the date by which the students must complete the assigned work shall be no greater than one week or five school days for any student in grades K-3 or two weeks or 10 school days for grades 4-8. For students in Home Education, the maximum time is 15 school days. When circumstances justify a longer period of time, the superintendent or designee may extend the maximum length of an assignment pursuant a written request.

The duration of the independent study master agreement, including the beginning and ending dates for the student's participation, shall be for temporary independent study (TIS) or until contract is terminated by the parent or the Home Education program (HEP) administrator.

The superintendent or designee shall establish appropriate screening procedures to ensure that the necessary levels of understanding and preparation exist to meet the conditions of the independent study agreement before its approval by the designated certificated representative of the district.

The superintendent or designee shall establish regulations to implement this policy in accordance with law.


The district shall not provide independent study students and parents/guardians with funds or items of value that are not provided for other students and parents/guardians.

The district shall provide appropriate existing services and resources to enable students to complete their independent study successfully. Further, it shall ensure the same access to all existing services and resources in the school in which the student is enrolled as are available to all other students at that school. (Education Code 51746; CCR11700(g))

The superintendent or designee shall develop regulations, which include, but are not limited to, each of the following:

1. The maximum length of time by grade level and type of program that may elapse between the time an independent study assignment is made and the date by which the student must complete the assigned work

2. The number of missed assignments that will be allowed before an evaluation is conducted, in order to determine whether it is in the best interest of the student to remain in independent study

Legal Reference:


17289 Exemption for facilities

42238 Revenue limits

44865 Qualifications for home teachers and teachers in special classes and schools; consent to assignment

46300-46300.6 Methods of computing ADA

47612.5 Independent study in charter schools

48204 Residency based on parent employment

48206.3 Home or hospital instruction; students with temporary disabilities

48220 Classes of children exempted

48340 Improvement of pupil attendance

48915 Expulsion; particular circumstances

48916.1 Educational program requirements for expelled students

48917 Suspension of expulsion order

51225.3 Requirements for high school graduation

51745-51749.3 Independent study programs

56026 Individuals with exceptional needs


6550 Authorization affidavits


11700-11703 Independent study


Modesto City Schools v. Education Audits Appeal Panel, (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 1365

Management Resources:


Independent Study Operations Manual, 2000 edition


California Consortium for Independent Study:

California Department of Education, Independent Study:


adopted: October 23, 2003 Escondido, California

revised: April 15, 2010