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What is Independent Study


Independent Study is an alternative way to learn, to attend school, and to make progress towards graduation.  Specifically, it is a program for students who can learn on their own, and who can teach themselves.  Students meet one hour a week with the teacher:  taking five or six classes, they have only 10-12 minutes per class per week with the teacher:  not enough time to teach.

Students are able to take one or two classes at their home school while taking at least four classes at Horizons.  Students also have the opportunity to take Junior College classes for high school and college credit.

To be successful in Independent Study, therefore, students have to be more capable and responsible than students in regular schools.  In many ways, Independent Study is more difficult than regular school, because the regular daily structure of school and the daily support of teachers are not there.  Also, the oral presentations and explanations (as well as multi-media) are absent.  To be successful, the student has to have very strong reading and writing skills:   reading is the primary method of learning.  In addition:  many students have difficulties with math.  As a rule, those students need the support of a teacher.  Keeping your math class at your home school or taking it in person at Horizons is strongly recommended.

Independent Study is a voluntary program, both for the student and the program.  Not every student who applies is accepted.  The program reviews all available records as well as the student application, and some students are interviewed, to determine who will be admitted.  The program seeks to identify who can be successful in the program, and who needs to continue with the support provided by the regular school.

In the review process, the program looks at academic records, school attendance, the student’s behavior, and anything else about the student that is relevant.  Grade point averages below 2.0 are causes for concern, particularly grades in academic subjects, especially English.  Independent Study is not a catch-up program, so students behind in credits should probably pursue other alternatives such as a Prospect or Olympic high school.  Test scores, particularly on the CAASP State tests, are another indicator of whether or not the student has the academic ability to succeed on their own.   Students who receive services in Special Education, have 504 plans and English Language Learners are eligible for the program, and students from all designations have been successful; however, students who need additional services not available in Independent Study, may not qualify.

 We look at attendance and behavior to determine how responsible the student can be.  If a student has a history of not being responsible, there have to be reasons and evidence why the student can be responsible in the program.

 To apply for Independent Study, a student has to complete an application which includes an essay.  It has to be signed by the student and the parents.  Anyone may apply, but the program expects that the school will counsel the student and make its own judgments about whether the program appears to be appropriate for the student.

Many students apply to Independent Study because of difficulties they are having at their home school.  But the program is only appropriate for those students who have the skills and abilities to be successful.  Both the home school and the Independent Study staff are available and willing to help you determine what is the best program for you or your student.