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Independent Study Programs for All Ages

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell congratulated three California public schools selected by a joint project of the California Consortium for Independent Study and the California Department of Education to receive the Exemplary Independent Study Recognition Award (EISRA).

"California's public school system provides viable options that parents can use to create the best learning environment for their children," said O'Connell.

"The Classical Academy, La Entrada High School, and Tamiscal High School have exemplary independent study programs that challenge students with a rigorous academic program, and provide flexibility and personalization. This individualized approach is the right fit for some students, and these schools have a great track record of helping such students succeed academically. By receiving this award, these schools are designated as shining examples for other independent study programs to emulate."

Independent study is authorized by California Education Code sections 51745-51749.3.

This is an alternative educational instructional strategy for students in kindergarten through adult education who may be gifted, have special challenges, need targeted instruction, or want an individualized approach to education. Students work on their own according to written agreements and under the general supervision of credentialed teachers. While independent study students follow the district-adopted curriculum and meet the district graduation requirements, independent study offers flexibility to meet individual students' needs, interests, and styles of learning.

Independent study is available only as a voluntary option chosen by students and parents. Students cannot be assigned to independent study. Independent study is also offered at the district's option, and it is not available in all districts. Districts can operate independent study as a program within a school or as stand-alone alternative school of choice or charter school.

The Classical Academy in Escondido (San Diego County) is a direct-funded charter school authorized by the Escondido Union School District. This K-8 charter school partners with parents to offer a hybrid model whereby students receive group instruction in a class setting two days a week and work independently at home the other three days.

La Entrada High School in Yorba Linda (Orange County) is in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. The school serves a highly mobile population and provides continuity through weekly meetings with supervising teachers. The school also provides subject matter expertise though weekly meetings with single subject credentialed teachers in core academic areas.

Tamiscal High School in Larkspur (Marin County) is in the Tamalpais Union High School District. This California Distinguished High School provides individualized instruction in one-on-one meetings that are described as "a weekly oral defense of the knowledge that the student has acquired that week," as well as required small group mathematics and science laboratories and individual tutoring as needed. A "Distinguished School" designation means a school has demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher- and lower-performing students.

The EISRA is designed to recognize excellent educational practices in schools where independent study is the primary mode of instruction. Eligible applicants must have 75 percent or more of the school's students enrolled in independent study, a statewide Academic Performance Index rank of 6 or above, and may not be in Program Improvement. Schools also must demonstrate compliance with all legal requirements for independent study. (The Academic Performance Index is the state's accountability model. Program Improvement is a federal plan to help schools improve academically.)

As part of the EISRA application, staff, parents/guardians, and students provide narrative supporting statements and applicants provide information on seven independent study elements. The elements include local educational agency support, teacher quality, standards-aligned curriculum and materials, assessment of student academic achievement, among other elements. Schools receive the EISRA designation for three years, and the recipient schools must submit an annual assurance in order to maintain the title.

For more information on independent study and the EISRA, please visit Independent Study - Educational Options. For the California Consortium for Independent Study, please visit CCIS - California Consortium for Independent Study [http://www.ccis.org] (Outside Source).


Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 10/23/2009
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