CDE hosts independent study webinars for LEAs

Two recent webinars hosted by the California Department of Education covered changes to independent study in adherence to Assembly Bill 130.

A July 29 presentation by CDE Education Programs Consultant Elvia Gonzalez focused on requirements for the 2021–22 academic year and how new rules can be implemented through the Local Control and Accountability Plan.

Covered were a handful of “hot topic” changes stemming from AB 130, which was signed into law on July 9. Those included requirements for local educational agencies to revise their board policies, revise written agreements for traditional independent study, develop learning agreements for course-based independent study, provide opportunities for live interaction and synchronous instruction, and, for the 2021–22 school year only, for school districts and county offices of education, to offer independent study as an educational option.

In addition to implementing their own independent study program, LEAs can also meet this year’s requirement by contracting with a county office of education or entering an inter-district transfer agreement. COEs can enter into a contract with another COE to offer independent study, but school districts cannot contract with another school district, Gonzalez clarified. It is also not permissible to contract with a charter school.

“For some of you, these requirements, even given the options, are simply insurmountable,” Gonzalez said. In that case, a waiver request can be made. The waiver will need to demonstrate that:

  • offering independent study poses an unreasonable fiscal burden due to low numbers of pupils participating or other extenuating circumstances; and
  • being unable to enter into an inter-district transfer agreement or to contract with a COE.

School districts must contact their COE for information and requirements on the waivers and COEs and districts in single-district counties can contact CDE’s School Fiscal Services Division at

CSBA has raised serious questions with the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom about the intersection of the independent study law and masking in schools. Under AB 130, if students are placed in independent study because they did not want to wear a mask in school, and subsequently fail to meet the attendance or engagement standards, the law requires that they return to in-person instruction, even though these students were barred from the classroom for their refusal to wear masks in the first place. The law also fails to provide an instructional alternative for students in school districts and county offices that receive a waiver since they are unable to offer independent study due to fiscal, logistical or technological limitations. In addition, the legislation does not account for students who are placed in independent study but lack an adequate internet connection.

CDE representatives said that templates are being created for sample board policies, traditional independent study written agreement, course-based independent study learning agreement and checklists for implementing programs.

Learn more about independent study here.

Information and resources regarding instructional time and attendance accounting requirements from the Aug. 3 webinar are available here.

For additional CDE resources