Independent Study
Independent Study Program Staff     Program Description     More Information

The Willows Unified School District Independent Study Program is available to students at elementary, intermediate and high school levels. It is housed at Willows High School.

Independent Study Program Staff
Mort Geivett
Willows Community High School Principal
(530) 934-6605

Geri Mahood
Willows High School, Room 203
(530) 934-6611, extension 1203

Program Description
Independent study is an alternative instructional strategy for grades K-12, not an alternative curriculum. Students work independently, according to a written agreement and under the general supervision of a credentialed teacher. While independent study students follow the district-adopted curriculum and meet the district graduation requirements, independent study offers flexibility to meet individual student needs, interests, and styles of learning.
  • Independent study is only available as a voluntary option chosen by students and parents. Students cannot be assigned to independent study. 
  • Independent study can be used on a short-term or long-term basis, and on a full-time basis or in conjunction with courses taken in a classroom setting. Classroom-based students may take some classes using independent study, often to solve scheduling problems.
  • Districts can operate independent study as a program within a school, or as stand-alone charter school or alternative school of choice.
  • State law provides that the education students receive using independent study should be at least equal in quality and quantity to that offered in the classroom.
  • For K-12, the ratio of independent study students to independent study teachers cannot exceed the ratio of classroom-based students to classroom-based teachers, calculated in terms of average daily attendance.

Because students in independent study work closely with their teacher, in one-on-one meetings or small group instruction, independent study can be a highly personalized form of instruction. Independent study also offers a high degree of flexibility and individualization, so it can serve a wide range of students including:

  • Gifted students who are not challenged in their regular classrooms and wish to accelerate their studies.
  • Students who face particular challenges -- such as health issues or the need to work -- that make classroom attendance difficult.
  • Students who, for a variety of reasons, have fallen behind in their studies and need targeted instruction to fill in gaps in their learning or make up credits.
  • Students who want an individualized approach that allows them to delve more deeply into areas of special interest.

Independent study can also be used as a dropout prevention or recovery mechanism for a subset of discouraged students who have very little connection with school. Independent study can facilitate a turnaround in student engagement. This can happen when students develop a close relationship with teachers in a one-on-one setting, and when they are able to take charge of their own learning through a customized approach. Based on diagnostic assessments of their academic achievement, such students are provided the additional assistance they need to be successful in independent study, which may include math and reading labs, tutoring, counseling, and computer-assisted learning.

While independent study is not for all students, for a significant number of students it provides a crucial option that meets their needs, interests, and styles of learning. In keeping students engaged in learning and in school, independent study contributes to closing the ultimate achievement gap -- the gap between students who graduate and those who drop out.

More Information
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823 W Laurel Street, Willows, CA 95988
(530) 934-6605
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