What is Independent Studies?

Divyani Narayan and Amaiya Cantu

Students explain the pros and cons of being a independent learner.

     The Independent Study classroom is located in the office and in a very quiet environment. The first thing they do is sign in and go to their assigned teacher to talk about what progress they have made or they need to make. They also plan the week ahead so either they can get started early or have an idea of what they need to do for the next week. The process of checking in takes about 20 minutes at a minimum. But if a student was absent or they didn’t do their work then it will take longer of course. After that, they go sit down at a table and do the work that they would like to do or they can go home.

     The Independent Studies Program (ISP) is a small program with intentions of a better opportunity for students to get an education without actually going to school. It’s not meant for everyone but the ones who have their own personal reason to be apart of the program. It also isn’t for students to just slack off. Taking online classes can be a bit more challenging then going to a regular school.

     That’s why there are some steps along the way to get into this program. But as long as the person is responsible and independent, the work in ISP will be easier to get used to.

     “I wanted to go to independent studies because I think it’s a better opportunity to get things done faster,” said Monet Garcia, a 10th grade student who has been going to ISP since October.

     Independent studies is very different from a public school, students have to learn to adapt to the environment, the teachers and how things are worked in the program. It’s an easy process to follow as long as your willing and dedicated.

     Students are assigned to a teacher, so they can schedule things out and make sure they are keeping up in all of the work that they’re doing.

     “Each student will have a supervisory teacher,” Mrs Tapia, one of the independent studies teachers said. “We are responsible in evaluating their transcripts and making sure they are taking all the classes that they need for graduation, monitoring their work so they can get their attendance.”

     The way teachers check students’ progress online and decide whether they need help or encouragement. In this case they can’t always stop by the school to visit and check in, everything is shown digitally. If they’re struggling, showing progress or if they need some support. Teachers are always checking up on them to make sure there isn’t a problem and work is going out smoothly.

     Tapia stated, “We have access to them, like a cell phone number they can contact at any time, they can stop by any time, so just because they are scheduled one day a week to come see us doesn’t mean they can’t be here other days.”

     One reason students may transfer into independent studies is so they can get more assistance especially when one teacher can’t give much to a whole classroom. Independent study teachers have more time and planned out schedules for each person.

     How students are graded are also very different from public school grading. Since independent studies teachers weren’t exactly hired to teach one subject they grade differently.     Mrs. Tapia explained, “…So the student has done everything that we asked them to do from different subjects and the student earned all her attendance. If a student did a part of history or a part of math, we have to evaluate how much work they have done of each subject and decide on how many days of attendance they will earn…”

     Since Independent Study students don’t actually go to school they earn their attendance by doing their work. They turn in their work then they get their attendance. If they miss a day of work they will lose points on their attendance. But these points can get earned back by doing extra work.

     The thing about this program is that all students do their work differently whether it is one subject at once or small bits of every subject.

     Independent Study is a voluntary program. If someone feels switching is best for them, and their parents or guardians agree, the person’s counselor will evaluate their transcript.

     There must be a good reason for switching into the program. Last there is a test to make sure students are able to read to 8th grade level because they gave to be able to read and study to be able to comprehend.

     There’s many ways independent studies can be good for people, mostly why students transfer into this program.

     “… I would say that it really is a little bit of experience with how the college life would be like because they have to really learn that their education is in their hands and that they have to communicate with their teachers, they have to organize themselves to be able to accomplish their work and it’s really up to them how fast they want to go so it’s kind of a little step towards college and a little taste of how college would be like.” said Mrs. Tinoco, one of the independent studies teachers.

     It gives them independence so they aren’t so relied on teachers and other people but it doesn’t mean they’re doing this all by themselves when they have support from their teachers. They can always contact them or show up any time.

     People join for their own personal reasons whether it’s at home or public school.

     Tapia explains some reasons, “Some students have identity problems, where they can’t identify themselves, they get picked on, they get bullied, there’s only four of us it’s an environment where they can feel safe and give trust, when they’re out there they don’t feel that connection.

     It’s important to feel safe wherever they are going to school for some they feel safer not going to a public school at all, but they still need the option of having a education so they go to independent studies. But the program isn’t only for ones who don’t like the public school environment.

     Tapia also added, “…also for kids that wanna focus on getting work done and there able to finish things fast at their pace, so it’s helping them to be quick and move on with their life. They’re so mature that being in the class is like a waste of time. We also have kids that need to work, the schedule will help them.” So people are able to deal with other aspects of life while still getting their education.

     Garcia been able to get done with her classes and work faster and have extra time with other things. This is a good opportunity to have when facing some challenges whether someone is working or have to take care of things at home.

     Another student Leonardo Mahserell 10, thought of the opportunity to have more time at home and get things done. He’s been in this program for two months now so he’s just now getting used to the environment and teachers.

     At first he found it harder getting all the work done without procrastination. But he did have more time at home to do homework and he’s able to schedule his own time to whatever works for him. That’s mainly what students like about the program you plan out your own schedule and make sure school fits in with what you have to do.

     This program has shown progress to students in need of it. It’s been a better opportunity for them to get their education but also have focus on other things if needed. Independent Study is a good idea for people who are willing to learn on their own without being here at school so if that’s you then consider being a part of Independent Study.