topleft >  Services >  Governance Technology > 

Santa Maria-Bonita SD |  AR  6158  Instruction

Independent Study   

arrow Previous bar Next arrow

Educational Opportunities

Educational opportunities offered through independent study must meet the equivalency requirements and may include, but are not limited to: (Education Code 51745)

1. A request by the parent/guardian/caregiver due to an emergency, vacation or illness. Independent Study may be used on a short-term basis to ensure that the student is able to maintain academic progress in his/her regular classes.

(cf. 5113 - Absences and Excuses)

2. A request for alternative education for a student who is experiencing difficulty in adapting to the regular curriculum, achieving academic success, or conforming to school rules.

3. A request for a student who has a verified medical and/or psychological problem and whose parent chooses Independent Study in place of Home /Hospital Instruction.

4. A request for a student who has received a suspended expulsion order (or stay of expulsion), rather than full expulsion from the Governing Board, and has been offered independent study with a classroom option.


The district's Independent Study option shall be substantially equivalent in quality and quantity to classroom instruction, thus enabling students participating in independent study to complete the district's adopted course of study within the customary time frame. Such individualized alternative education must be designed to teach the knowledge and skills of the core curriculum, and shall not teach alternative curriculum.

Students in Independent Study shall have access to the same services and resources that are available to other students in the school. (5 CCR 11701.5)

Independent Study students shall have equal rights and privileges as all other students in the school of enrollment. (Education Code 51746 and 11701.5)

(cf. 0410 - Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities)

Students must be assigned equivalent of a full day's work for their assigned grade level. A student should be assigned more than the minimum number of minutes/hours of work in order to meet academic requirements and progress/graduate on schedule. However, the minutes/hours listed below reflect the maximum apportionment a teacher may take: Education Code 46300(d)(2), 48206.3(c)(2))

Type of Program Apportionment Only

Kindergarten 180 minutes per day (5 days per week)

Grades 1-8 240 minutes per day (5 days per week)

Opportunity Class 15 hours per week

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)

Eligibility for Independent Study

Independent Study may be an appropriate option for a student who is expected to be absent from school for five or more consecutive school days. (Education Code 46300) Parents/guardians of students who are interested in Independent Study should contact the school principal or designee. 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 effectively supervise the student.

3. The student must be enrolled in a district school. (Education Code 51748)

4. A student's participation in Independent Study shall be voluntary. (Education Code 51747)

5. Students participating in Independent Study must be residents of the local county or an adjacent county. (Education Code 51747.3)

6. 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)

7. A student with disabilities, as defined in Education Code 56026, shall not participate in Independent Study unless his/her individualized education program specifically provides for such participation. (Education Code 51745) (cf. 6159 - Individualized Education Program)

8. A temporarily disabled student shall not receive individual instruction pursuant to Education Code 48206.3 by means of Independent Study. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 6183 - Home and Hospital Instruction)

However, if the student/parents/guardians and district agree, the student may receive instruction through the district's Independent Study program as an alternative to Home and Hospital Instruction.

9. No more than ten percent of the students enrolled in an opportunity school, class, or program shall be in Independent Study at any given time. (Education Code 51745)

(cf. 6182 - Opportunity School/Class/Program)

10. Class size reduction funding is not available for any student enrolled in Independent Study (20 to 1 with no funding). (Education Code 52123)

11. The ratio of students to full-time equivalent certificated employees responsible for Independent Study shall not exceed the equivalent ratio for all other education programs in the district.

Written Agreements

A written agreement shall be executed and maintained for each student participating in Independent Study for five or more school days. (Education Code 46300, 51747)

The written Independent Study agreement for each participating student, and the assignment sheet which is part of the written agreement, shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following: (Education Code 51747)

1. Student name, address, grade level, school name/program placement, birth date.

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

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

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

5. A statement from the Board'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.

6. The duration of the Independent Study agreement, including the beginning and ending dates for the student's participation in independent study under the agreement.

7. A statement of the units of work assigned, with each unit being equivalent to one full day of work, to be earned by the student upon completion.

8. A statement that Independent Study is an optional educational alternative in which no student may be required to participate and a classroom option is continuously available.

9. In the case of a 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. In the case of a suspended student pending expulsion pursuant to Education Code 48915 or 48917, 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)

The curriculum and methods of study as specified on the assignment sheet, which is subsidiary to the written agreement, shall be consistent with Board policy, administrative regulations and procedures for curriculum and instruction. (5 CCR 11702)

(cf. 6143 - Courses of Study)

Before beginning the Independent Study, each written agreement shall be signed and dated by the student, the parent/guardian or caregiver, 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; 5 CCR 11702)

The agreement shall state that the parent/guardian's signature confirms his/her permission for the student's Independent Study as specified in the agreement.

Subsidiary Agreement(s)

Subsidiary agreements are not required but may be used. If they are, the subsidiary agreement(s) may include:

1. Specific course and assignment objectives.

2. Specific assignment activities/ methods of study.

3. Specific subject resources including all materials (books, workbooks, videos, computer activities, projects, etc.) and personnel (paraprofessionals, tutors).

4. Methods of evaluation.

5. Signatures of the student, subject teacher, and any other assisting persons, if appropriate. Parent signature not required.

6. Statement that these subsidiary agreements/ course contracts are only valid for the semester in which they were generated and terminated at the end of that period.

Student and Parent Rights and Responsibilities

The student and parent rights and responsibilities are identified and included with the Independent Study agreement and in a handout given to parents at the time of registration.

Students and their parents have the right to review the program of instruction and revoke the Independent Study agreement at any time. A classroom option is always available.

The Administration of Independent Study

The responsibilities of the Independent Study administrator shall be to:

1. Ensure that the district's elementary and junior high Independent Study option is operated in accordance with state law, district Board policy and administrative regulations.

2. Approve the participation of students requesting Independent Study.

3. Direct the completion of written independent study agreements and related student assignment plans in accordance with district regulations and State requirements.

4. Approve all attendance credit earned and academic units measuring the amount of student work completed through independent study.

5. Participate, when requested, in the selection of staff to be assigned to supervise Independent Study.

6. Supervise and evaluate independent study staff whose functions are not regularly supervised by another administrator.

7. Coordinate and participate in a staff development program for Independent Study, to include an orientation for site and other district administrators.

8. At the junior high level, the principal will serve as the Independent Study administrator with the same duties and responsibilities as outlined above.

9. Supervise the preparation and completion of all necessary records and reports.

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

11. Provide input in the development and management of the budget for Independent Study.

12. 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.

13. Prepare and submit reports as requested by the Board or Superintendent.

Supervising Teachers

A certificated teacher of the school district must generally supervise, coordinate, and evaluate the work of each student engaged in Independent Study. Apportionment credit for independent study may be claimed only to the extent of the time value of pupil or student work products, as personally judged in each instance by a certificated teacher. (Education Code 51747.5)

Evaluation of Non-Producing/Non-Attending Students

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 or the appropriate supervising teacher shall promptly and directly address any failure by the student to meet the terms of his/her written agreement. Action may include, but not be limited to, the following:

1. A warning letter may be sent to the student and parent/guardian.

2. A meeting or phone conference may be held with the concerned parties to determine if Independent Study is an appropriate placement for this student. This conference could include the student/parent/ supervising teacher/administrator/principal.

An assignment is defined as an instructional activity generated by a teacher for the student to accomplish by the next scheduled meeting date. When any student fails to complete three assignments in one semester for junior high or in one trimester for elementary, the

Superintendent or designee shall conduct an evaluation during which a determination will be made as to whether or not Independent Study is an appropriate placement for the student. This 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)

(cf. 5125 - Student Records)

A student may enroll in Independent Study on a short term basis and will be assigned for a period of no more than 20 consecutive school days. In this circumstance the period of time specified on the agreement will constitute one assignment. When the student has one missed assignment (missed assignment is defined as a late return or no work completed) the supervising teacher shall conduct an evaluation during which a determination will be made as to whether or not Independent Study is an appropriate placement for the student.


For audit purposes, the Superintendent or designee shall maintain the following records: (Education Code 51748; 5 CCR 11703)

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

2. A separate listing of the students by grade level, and school, who have participated in independent study, identifying units of the work attempted and units of work completed as specified in their written agreements. (One unit equals one day's worth of work.)

3. A file for each student containing a:

a. Written Independent Study Agreement and any Subsidiary Agreements.

b. Student Assignment Sheet(s).

c. One representative sample of original work from each assigned subject bearing the supervising teacher's initials on the top page of each subject area sample and dated notations indicating that he/she has personally evaluated the work or that he/she has personally reviewed the evaluations made by another certificated teacher.

"Representative sample" is defined as one item of work for each assigned subject per semester/trimester (or for the duration of the assignment in the case of short term Independent Study).

d. Teacher Record of apportionment/attendance credits, grades and other evaluations of Independent Study assignments (This information is on the assignment sheet.)

e. When needed, a letter of concern and/or written record of evaluation stating whether Independent Study is an appropriate placement for non-producing/ non-attending students.

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

Students can not be dropped from Independent Study. They must be transferred to another program or school.

Short Term Independent Study Procedures

All the laws and regulations that govern "regular" Independent Study apply to "short-term" independent study. Short-term Independent Study may be appropriate when a student who is usually in a classroom will be absent from school. Apportionment may be claimed only if the student will be absent for five or more consecutive school days (Education Code 46300(e)(1)) and arrangements are made through an Independent Study Master Agreement for the student to complete the work he/she will miss.

Step 1

The parent may request short-term Independent Study at the school at least five days in advance of the absence. (Exceptions to this rule may be made based on capacity.) The school office staff is responsible for filling out the master agreement and obtaining the necessary signatures prior to the commencement of Independent Study.

Step 2

Elementary: The classroom teacher fills out the student registration which is faxed to the elementary supervising teacher. The supervising teacher will use the information on the registration and a follow up phone call if necessary to generate the assignments for the student. Either the classroom teacher or the supervising teacher goes over the assignment with the student prior to the start of Independent Study.

Junior High: Once a student has registered for Independent Study at the junior high level, there are two instructional options for the supervising teacher to consider and choose:

Option #1: Each core subject teacher and the P.E. teacher write the assignment, and gather the needed materials. The supervising teacher coordinates the paperwork and assures that procedures are followed and forms are filled out correctly.

Option #2: The supervising teacher communicates with the classroom teacher regarding the student and then writes the assignment and gathers the necessary materials.

Step 3

Elementary: When the student returns to school, all work is to be returned by the due date to the school site office staff, which will send it to the elementary supervising teacher. The supervising teacher will evaluate the work for academic and attendance credit, and send a copy of the evaluation to the classroom teacher and a copy to the parent.

Junior High: When the student returns to school, all work is to be returned by the due date to the supervising teacher on site who will review the work in collaboration with the other teachers, and determine academic and attendance credit based on the student's completed work.

Step 4

The supervising teacher will select work samples to be kept in accordance with the guidelines specified in the administrative regulations.

The supervising teacher at the junior highs will return all paperwork required for audits to the Independent Study coordinator in a timely manner for attendance accounting purposes.


approved: November 12, 1986 Santa Maria, California

revised: October 6, 1999

revised: May 23, 2001

revised: June 25, 2008