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Independent Study

MBUSD Independent Study Program 2021-2022 

Updated September 3, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


May students who initially selected in-person instruction change their selection to independent study after the school year has commenced? 

Yes.  We strongly recommend a transition at the trimester (elementary and middle school) and the semester (high school) to minimize the disruption to the student’s educational program and ensure continuity of learning.  However, if a student who selected in-person instruction submits an application to enroll in the Independent Study Program after the school year has commenced, the student will be transitioned to the Independent Study Program if there is capacity at that time. If there is no capacity, applications will be granted as spaces become available during the applicable trimester or semester.  If spaces do not become available during the applicable trimester, applications will be granted as follows:


Elementary 

For Independent Study Program applications received from 9/8/21 through 10/22/21, students will transition to independent study on 11/29/21.


For Independent Study Program applications received from 10/23/21 through 1/7/22, students will transition to independent study on 1/18/22.


For Independent Study Program applications received from 1/8/22 through 3/18/22, students will transition to independent study on 4/11/22.

MBMS

For Independent Study Program applications received from 9/8/21 through 11/5/21, students will transition to independent study on 11/29/21.  


For Independent Study Program applications received on 11/6/21 through  2/18/22, students will transition to independent study on 3/14/22.

MCHS

For Independent Study Program applications received from 9/8/21 through 12/3/21, students will transition to independent study on 1/4/22

 

What is the MBUSD Independent Study (IS) Program?

Independent Study, per the California Department of Education Assembly Bill 130 (AB 130), requires districts to provide an alternative to in-person classroom instruction for students whose health would be put at risk during the 2021-2022 school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and whose needs may be best met through study outside of the traditional, in-person, classroom setting. 


Who is eligible for enrollment in the MBUSD IS Program?

Students whose health would be put at risk, as determined by the legal guardian, by attending in-person learning are eligible for enrollment.


For what type of student is the Independent Study Program best suited?

The program is best suited for students who can manage their work at home independently, or who have a family member/caregiver who can assist them in accessing learning. 

In general, success in independent study requires motivation and a strong commitment on the part of the student and his/her/their parents/guardians/caregivers, especially for younger students. 

It also requires sufficient academic preparation to enable the student to work independently. Students struggling with accessing the curriculum, meeting standards, and making appropriate academic progress should NOT enroll in the Independent Study Program. If the ISP administrator and staff determine that independent study is not the appropriate placement at any time during the school year, the student will be enrolled in in-person learning. 

If my student struggled in distance learning last year, should I sign them up for Independent Study?

No, if your student’s health would not be put at risk, they will be better served by the in-person (traditional school) program. The 2020-21 school year forced all students into distance learning due to a pandemic. All students have the option to return to in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year. If your student struggled with learning remotely, they should return to in-person instruction.  


My child is easily distracted by video games, online videos, and social media but wants to be in the Independent Study Program. Should I sign them up? 

No.  While many students were successful in distance learning, online distractions caused some students to struggle academically. If your child is easily distracted in this way, he/she/they would be better served with in-person instruction.


What are the expectations of an Independent Study student?

  • Daily engagement with curriculum and school work 
  • Distraction free learning environment 
  • Assignments completed and submitted on time  
  • High standards of academic integrity  
  • Daily monitoring of school platforms including email, Aeries, Google Classroom, etc. 
  • Organization with daily and long-term assignments through use of a list or agenda 
  • Communication with teachers and staff to seek clarification and support  
  • Respectful communication and collaboration with peers  
  • Maintain balance with activities outside of school that do not involve a screen 
  • Engage in remote learning with the same commitment as in the “traditional” setting 

 

What are the expectations of an Independent Study parent/guardian/caregiver?

  • Active monitoring of student’s courses including assignments, grades, and attendance 
  • Consistent engaged communication with teachers and staff  
  • Support of the student’s distraction free learning environment  
  • Establishment of a structured, daily routine for completing work 
  • Participation in meetings with program staff if requested. 
  • Ensure student’s daily monitoring of 

all school platforms 

  • Maintain an active role in the student’s education and provide assistance as needed 
  • Provide the student with opportunities for physical activity and healthy social interactions 

Is the Independent Study Program the same as the Distance Learning/Hybrid programs of last year?  

No, the Independent Study Program, required under AB 130, looks very different from the programs last year.  Senate Bill 98 provided parameters and waived regular requirements in order to allow for distance learning/virtual learning in the form it took for the 2020-21 school year. The distance learning language included in SB 98 is no longer in force, and AB 130 allows for only two instructional models (in-person learning and independent study) for the 2021-22 school year.


How much synchronous instruction or live interaction will occur in the Independent Study Program? Independent study students will participate in “live interaction” and/or “synchronous instruction” in accordance with law at each grade level throughout the school year, or until they disenroll from the program, as follows: 

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: Daily synchronous instruction (15-30 minutes), with the remainder of the time structured as asynchronous instruction, for a combined total of 200 synchronous and asynchronous minutes per day for kindergarten and 280 synchronous and asynchronous minutes per day for grades 1-3. 
  • Grades 4 to 8:  Daily live interaction/check-in and weekly synchronous instruction combined with asynchronous instruction (10-20 minutes of daily live interaction, 15-30 minutes per week of synchronous instruction, and a combined total of 300 live, synchronous, and asynchronous minutes per day)
  • Grades 9 to 12: Weekly synchronous instruction (15-30 minutes per week of synchronous instruction, and a combined total of 360 synchronous and asynchronous minutes per day)

*Live interaction means interaction between the student and local educational agency classified or certificated staff, and may include peers; it is provided for the purpose of maintaining school connectedness, including but not limited to: wellness checks, progress monitoring, provision of services and instruction. This interaction may take place in person or in the form of internet or telephonic communication.   

*Synchronous instruction means classroom-style instruction or designated small group or one- on-one instruction delivered in person or in the form of internet or telephonic communication and involving live, two-way communication between the teacher and student. Synchronous instruction shall be provided by the teacher of record for the student. 

What technology do I need in my home for my student to be successful in the IS Program?

For a student to be successful in the IS Program they need a reliable internet connection in their home. Students and parents should be familiar with technology and be able to troubleshoot issues as they arise. For some families hardwiring a device directly to a modem has helped with WIFI issues. In addition, setting up a clean space, free of distractions, and dedicated to school helped students to be successful last year.  If you need assistance with devices or hotspots, please inform MBUSD when you enroll in the Independent Study Program. 


What if Independent Study is not working for my child? 

Students are expected to be engaged in school on a daily basis in the Independent Study Program. If a student is not engaged, or if a student is not making academic progress, the school will evaluate the situation, including available intervention options and whether the student may be better served by in-person instruction.


Can my child return to traditional in-person schooling at any time? 

If your student no longer has a health risk and Independent Study is not working for them, you can reach out to your Independent Study teacher for assistance. Although AB 130 allows students to return to in-person instruction within five days of parent/guardian request, we strongly recommend a transition at the trimester (elementary TK-5) and the semester (secondary 6-12) to minimize the disruption to the students educational program and ensure continuity of learning. Transitioning to in-person schooling or transitioning to independent study after the start of the school year will require a change in teacher and curriculum for all students. At the secondary level, this may necessitate a change in course schedules. The Independent Study teacher will work with your student’s school administration to discuss support and accommodations.


Will my child participate in standardized testing or other district-wide testing?

Yes, students in the Independent Study Program will continue to participate in all state and local assessments.  

 

What is the commitment for Independent Study TK-12?

Although SB/AB 130 allows students to return to in-person instruction within five days of parent/guardian request, we strongly recommend a transition at the trimester (elementary TK-5) and the semester (secondary 6-12) to minimize the disruption to the student’s educational program and ensure continuity of learning. Please note that a return to in-person instruction may necessitate significant changes in a student’s schedule, including changes to the courses in which a student is enrolled. 


What curriculum is used for the Independent Study Program?

A standards-aligned curriculum will be provided for the Independent Study Program at all grade levels, TK-12. High school students will have access to classes that will allow them to meet A-G requirements and to some AP courses.


Will my student have access to the same courses in the Independent Study Program that they would have taken in the regular in-person program? 

Students enrolled in the Independent Study Program will have access to curriculum and courses that meet district standards, prepare them for the next grade level, and, for high school students, meet graduation requirements and requirements for admission to the California State University and University of California systems (A-G requirements). However, not all courses offered in person at MBMS and MCHS will be offered through the Independent Study Program, and students may have to choose alternative courses from the ones they had planned to take in person. 


How much time will students spend completing independent study coursework?

It is important to make sure that independent study students and parents/guardians understand the time commitment they are making when they sign the Independent Study Written Agreement. Parents/guardians/caregivers and students should expect to spend as much time on independent study assignments as they would for in-person learning. 


Does my child need to be a resident of Manhattan Beach Unified School District to enroll in the Independent Study Program? 

Students are expected to maintain residency within District boundaries during the duration of the school year and may be asked to pick up supplies and complete exams on campus or at the district office. Parents and students may be required to attend in-person meetings. 


May students with active Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) enroll? 

State law requires students with special needs who wish to participate in independent study to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that allows for independent study. Students with IEPs may submit the Independent Study Program enrollment form. However, an IEP meeting must be scheduled and program placement is determined by the IEP team. 


Are students required to complete assignments within a specific timeframe?

Yes. In order to earn credit and continue participating in Independent Study, a student must complete assignments within the guidelines on the Independent Study Written Agreement. If a student does not complete an established number of assignments within the required time period, the student will be evaluated to determine if the Independent Study Program is the correct option for the student. If the school determines that Independent Study is not the appropriate placement for the student, the student will be enrolled in in-person learning. 


If I choose to enroll in the Independent Study Program, do I lose my spot at the school I regularly attend? 

No. For the 2021-22 school year students enrolled in the Independent Study Program will be able to return to their home school at the end of their Independent Study Program agreement.

My child is eligible for free and reduced lunch. Can they still receive a meal daily?

All students in the Independent Study Program will have access to the free and reduced lunch program.


How will attendance be tracked?

Attendance and participation will be monitored daily, and staff will follow up with students and families as necessary. Tiered re-engagement strategies will be initiated to promote student attendance for students in violation of their student written agreement. Students who do not maintain attendance standards will be required to enroll in in-person learning. 


Are students able to participate in music, band, performing arts, extracurricular, clubs or athletics? 

The Independent Study Program, as defined by AB130 does not guarantee participation in in-person courses or activities, including clubs, elective classes, or athletics. Because IS students are students whose health may be put at risk by attending in-person learning, it may not be feasible to offer in-person participation to students participating in this program. 


What about activities and sports through PTA/PTSA/Clubs/Athletics at my home school?

The Independent Study Program, as defined by AB130, does not guarantee participation in in-person courses or activities, including clubs, elective classes, or athletics. Because Independent Studies students are students whose health may be put at risk by attending in-person learning, it may not be feasible to offer in-person participation to students participating in this program. 


Who assigns the grades in the Independent Study Program? 

The MBUSD credentialed/supervising teacher for the Independent Study Program will be the teacher of record and will assign grades. 


Do Mira Costa High School students who enroll in full-time independent study receive their diploma? For the 2021-2022 school year, high school seniors enrolled in the Independent Study Program will receive a MCHS diploma after successful completion of all graduation requirements. 

What else should my family consider when making the choice to enroll in the Independent Study Program? 

Please think about the academic and social-emotional needs of your child, especially considering the fact that the Independent Study Program will have limited opportunities for collaborative instructional activities and social interactions with typically developing peers. 


Can students take part-time independent study courses and part-time in-person courses? 

No. Students must be enrolled in either full-time in-person learning or full-time independent study. 


How do I enroll my child in the Independent Study Program?

Parents enroll children in the Independent Study Program by completing this enrollment form by Sunday, August 8, 2021 by 5:00 p.m.


What happens after I complete the Independent Study Program enrollment form?

A meeting will be scheduled to review your enrollment form and the Independent Study Written Agreement. 


What if I want to request that my student be placed in the Independent Study Program or that my student be moved from the Independent Study Program to the regular program?

A request for a change of placement must be made in writing to the principal of your student’s current school. Please note that after the start of the school year, a written agreement must be signed prior to a placement in the Independent Study Program; this means that changes of placement into the Independent Study Program will not be automatic or immediate. A plan to transition students whose families wish to return to in-person instruction will be followed expeditiously to ensure return to school within five instructional days of making a request or of evaluation of independent study appropriateness.


What is the written agreement between the student )or parent/guardian) and the district? 

The written agreement between the student (and/or parent/guardian) and the District (including the certificated employee who has responsibility for supervision/oversight and individuals providing direct assistance), must be signed no later than 30 days after the first day of instruction, or prior to the student starting in the Independent Study Program, whichever is later. Before a written agreement is signed, a student-parent-educator conference must be convened. It may be phone, videoconference, or in-person.


What if I have questions? 

You have the right to request a student-parent-educator conference/meeting prior to enrollment in the Independent Study Program. If you complete the enrollment form, we will reach out to you to offer a conference so that we can address your questions.

Excerpt from BP/AR 6158:

 

The Board of Education authorizes independent study as an optional alternative instructional strategy for eligible students whose needs may best be met through study outside of the regular classroom setting. Independent study shall offer a means of individualizing the educational plan to serve students who desire a more challenging educational experience, whose health or other personal circumstances make classroom attendance difficult, who are unable to access course(s) due to scheduling problems, and/or who need to make up credits or fill gaps in their learning. As necessary to meet student needs, independent study may be offered on a full-time basis or on a part-time basis in conjunction with part- or full-time classroom study.

 

Excerpt from CalEdFacts - Independent Study webpage:

 

The purpose of independent study is to provide an alternative education program and setting for students. Independent study programs are voluntary and use alternative instructional strategies that respond to individual student needs and learning styles.

 

The flexibility of independent study programs makes it possible to serve a wide variety of students, enabling some students who otherwise might not graduate to stay in school. Students who enroll in independent study include students who have health problems, are parents, need to work, and are child actors or aspiring Olympic athletes. Additionally, independent study serves students who desire to accelerate or move more slowly through a course, or to make up a subject that they have missed in a traditional classroom. Independent study is available to students from kindergarten through high school, as well as to students in adult school who are taking courses to meet the requirements for a high school diploma. Independent study programs are required to follow the district-adopted curriculum, and work is governed by a written agreement signed by the student, teacher, parent, and other relevant adults.