Public School Independent Study Programs

Enrolling your child in a public school independent study program is the legal equivalent to enrolling him in public school. These are the "home study" programs offered by many school districts. Public ISPs vary widely from school to school in the level of control they exert over their students and the services they offer. Many districts offer no independent study options, and in many other districts, the ISP is true to its historical roots - it is remedial in nature, or is intended for delinquent students.

These programs can be appealing for a wide variety of reasons. Some offer children the chance to compete on a school sports team, or give ongoing social opportunities and classes. Some families prefer the structure or guidance provided by a credentialed teacher, and some schools provide the curriculum (and may require assignments, worksheets, grades and standardized testing). Some school districts offer "split-site" options, where students can attend a few classes at the local school and the remainder through independent study.

Public ISP students cannot be given advantages that are not available to the other students in the district. For example, ISP students cannot be offered music lessons if the other students in the district are not also offered music lessons. On the other hand, public ISP students should be given access to many of the same things that other students in that same district have, such as sports teams, field trips, libraries, and, in some cases, the opportunity to enroll in classes.

If your local district does not have an ISP and you wish to homeschool using this option, you can request an inter-district transfer to a program within your county or the county immediately adjacent to yours. Transfers are at the discretion of the district and are not automatically granted. If you are denied a transfer, you should be given information about an appeal at the time of the denial. Appeals are heard by the CDE. However, an appeal might not be granted, and you may need to consider another homeschooling alternative.

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