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Independent study programs have long existed within many public schools, offering an alternative method of learning where students can engage in district curriculum at their own pace from home. Their use has normally been limited to certain populations, such as students with health problems, those with work or family obligations and even child actors. Working independently makes this programming ideal for students seeking credit recovery or accelerated learning.
Coming off the heels of mandatory remote learning, some districts are preparing for an influx of interest in independent study programs. Although not all schools embrace this alternative model, many do and they take a few different forms.
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Every district varies in its approach to independent study. Offerings tend to blend aspects of online learning, homeschooling and sometimes traditional in-person teaching. Students are usually required to have regular check-ins with teachers to follow their progress.
TRUST Blended Learning offered by La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools allows families to choose between online-only, homeschooling and blended learning, in which students may choose to spend up to half the school week learning on campus.
The Edgeunity program run through Escondido Union High School District also allows students to follow district curriculum online while having the opportunity to participate in limited in-person activities through campus learning centers. This allows students to enroll in up to two in-person courses as well as campus extracurriculars if they choose.
Other programs, such as the Fallbrook Homeschool Academy run through the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, require parents to take a hand in guiding their children through district curriculum. This program blends classroom learning with a more traditional homeschooling approach.
It is worth noting that some schools follow specific criteria for enrollment in these programs or have caps on how much of the student population can participate in independent study.