The past year and a half has stirred us all up. When they said “unprecedented times”, they really weren’t kidding. We’ve seen changes to instruction, curriculum, attendance, and everything in between. But in true educator fashion, we saw our districts (and everyone from teachers to staff to students) show extreme resilience, keeping their eyes forward and focused on student success. We know that our districts have always looked to Aeries to provide timely developments, quickly sharing new updates as they come down the pipeline.
For the past 26 years, we’ve strengthened our relationships with governing agencies like the California Department of Education, allowing us to always focus on our foundation of compliance. When the pandemic hit, legislation changed. And boy, did it change quickly.
When AB130 was released, we knew right away that it was time to jump in and dissect the bill and its direct effect on Independent Study. How would this effect attendance? Would ADA be effected? What impact did the bill have on districts’ finances? We’re here to help.
Simply said, AB130 was created as response to the growing number of students choosing Independent Study, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was first introduced in January 2021, and was officially approved by the Governor on July 9, 2021. To learn more about the bill, click here. In short, it states that all schools must allow Independent Study (IS) as an option for ALL students during the 2021-2022 school year. It also adds specific daily and/or weekly engagement requirements for Independent Study, along with requirements for board policies, electronic signatures, etc.
As a student information system, there was no doubt this would impact the way we worked and provided support to you. Our teams immediately got to work to find solutions to help simplify the new bill’s impact. Are you ready to jump in?
What are the five main takeaways of the bill?
1. School districts and COEs must offer IS as an option for all students for the 2021-22 school year.
2. LEAs must create a plan to offer Independent Study to students who are effected by school closures.
3. LEAs must inform parents and guardians of the option for students to enroll in IS or in-person instruction.
4. A pupil-parent-educator conference must be held.
5. Criteria and information regarding IS must be written into board policies.
So how is this different from the past years?
CBIS refers to Course-Based Independent Study, while TIS refers to Traditional Independent Study. In essence, they are the same thing as far as Aeries is concerned. They differ in that CBIS earns ADA differently and is actually quite rare (only about a dozen districts in the state have been approved). CBIS and TIS programs have the same scheduling and master schedule requirements.
In the past, TIS & CBIS have both been educational options. However, this year is different because all school districts MUST offer IS to ANY parent/guardian who requests it. This means that districts must outline specific requirements for daily and or weekly interactions.
Will AB 130 affect districts’ funding?
Districts can only receive funding one of two ways. First, students must be physically present in the classroom or at a school. The second option is that students participate in Independent Study via TIS work product or CBIS Progress Towards Completion.
New information is still coming out, so we are continuing to monitor the situation and adjusting our recommendations and software updates as necessary. Just today we received new information from the legal division of the CDE stating that quarantined students are NOT able to generate ADA even if they are being served via Independent Study according to AB130. However, that ruling may be overturned, and the legislature is currently working on some clean-up language. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and will keep you advised. There are links at the bottom of this blog so you can monitor any changes as they happen.
What steps are being taken by Aeries to better support districts?
Aeries will be working to better support Independent Study as the bill continues to make its way through the California Legislature. Independent Study contracts will be managed inside Aeries and will drive all-day attendance for students with Independent Study Contracts.
Let’s talk short-term features…
One major development is that districts will also be able to facilitate digital signatures. Districts will be able to allow for agreement documents to be downloaded in any language available. In order to facilitate the signature, the person must sign their name and agree to digital signatures. The Electronic Signature agreement will be available in District Settings and can be edited by the district. Districts will be able to send signature notices, as well as review and approve parent signatures.
We’ve added in a new school option so that Alternative Education Scheduling for only specific sections in a school’s master schedule to be enabled. This means that IS programs can be more effectively maintained inside a traditional school’s Aeries School Code by protecting the integrity of the traditional sections, while still providing flexibility to Independent Study classes. (To learn more about this new feature, refer to our 8/19/21 Update release.)
We’ve also created a new page where the mandatory contracts can be housed.
What about long-term features?
We’re always looking to expand and grow our features to better serve our clients. In the future, we’re looking forward to enhancing gradebook adjustments, integrating gradebook data with independent study attendance, and enhancing attendance note usage.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, we are committed to keeping you in the loop of all major legislative changes and to providing you with enhancements to better ease your data management. We know, that you know, things change quickly. As we continue to navigate these times, know that Aeries is always on your side.
For additional resources regarding AB 130, follow the links below:
Independent Study Program questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attendance Accounting & Instructional Time questions: email@example.com
Click to view the CDE Webinar
Independent Study AB-130 FAQs
Independent Study – Overview of Planned Changes for 2021
To visit our FreshDesk article, click here.