Independent Study


Frequently Asked Questions About Independent Study


What is Independent Study (IS)?

When a family knows in advance that a child will miss 5 or more days of school due to vacation or travel, family responsibilities or a long-term illness, parents and guardians have the option of requesting an Independent Study packet so that they do not fall behind in work. Completing an Independent Study packet also prevents your school from losing funding, since the state provides money to our schools based on student attendance.


What is an Independent Study Packet?

Independent Study Packets are prepared by your student’s teacher and provide students with work to complete. Independent Study packets are designed to prevent your student from falling behind. They may contain reading assignments, worksheets, or a writing assignment. Your child’s teacher decides what to include in the packet based on work being completed in class.


Are Independent Study Packets required if your child is going to miss school for 5 days or more?

Independent Study Packets are completely voluntary, but we strongly encourage parents to request and sign contracts for Independent Study packets when they know at least 1 week in advance that their students will miss school. Students, parent/guardian, teacher and principal all must sign the contract in advance for the Independent Study packet to be valid.


Why is it important for students to complete Independent Study Packets when they must miss school for personal reasons?

There are two very important reasons students should complete Independent Study Packets when they must miss school:


1. Keeping up with schoolwork is important for academic success. Teachers report that every day a student misses class puts him or her about two days behind. This is because students must make up missed work and complete new assignments in a shorter amount of time.

2. When your student completes an Independent Study Packet, it prevents your school and the school district from losing money. The state provides about $30 per day for each student who attends school. This is often referred to as Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. The state does NOT provide any funding when students are absent, EVEN if the absence is excused for health or personal reasons. (ex. If one family with 3 children takes a week- long vacation and does not complete Independent Study, the district loses $450 in funding.)


How do we arrange for an Independent Study?

1.  Request a Master Agreement for Independent Study from your school office.

2.   Fill out the Master Agreement, which must be signed by the student, parent, teacher and principal, and turn it in to your school office at least 1 week before the first day of absence.


What are the rules for Independent Study?

According to Education Code 46300(e):


The Independent Study Master Agreement must be completely filled out and signed by the student, parent, teacher and principal with beginning and ending dates completed before the work begins.

A pupil's work must be reviewed by a certificated teacher upon return from the student’s absence. The teacher, in some reasonable manner, must document: the assignments made; the manner, time and due date of the work; and, the time value of academic work performed.

The work must be turned in on the first school day after the contract ends or it is invalid. If, for example, the student is ill the first day he/she is expected to return to school, the parent or guardian must still return the completed packet or it will not count.


Is there a minimum # of days absent required to complete an Independent Study Contract.

The student must be absent for 5 consecutive days.


If a student requests an Independent Study Master Agreement for 5 days and is absent for 5 days, but only completes 2 days of work, how much funding will the district receive?

The district will receive funding only for the 2 days of completed work.  The other 3 days will be counted as unexcused absences, and will be added to the truancy count.


What if a contract has been signed and completed for 5 days and the student returns on the 4th day. Can the student receive credit for 4 days of work completed?

No, the student may receive credit only when he/she is absent for 5 consecutive days.


Can the child be placed on Independent Study if the parent notifies the school that the student is already out of town or out of the country?

No, an IS contract must be signed by the student, parent and teacher BEFORE the child can be placed on Independent Study.Without a signed Master Agreement, we are not authorized to grant Independent Study.