Individualized Instruction

Date Issued: 

The following Policy Guideline is designed to replace Informational Policy Memorandum (IPM) 75, issued August 25, 1994.

Section 126.4(a) of the Commissioner's Regulations states, "Schools shall conduct only those curricula or courses which have been approved by the commissioner, and shall conduct such curricula and courses in accordance with Section 5002(4) and (5) of the Education Law and this Part . . ."

The intent of this guideline is to clarify the factors considered when a course/curriculum is approved for individualized instruction. The following is a description of what is believed to be an educationally appropriate individualized instruction program.

Definition: Individualized instruction is a method of instruction in which there is one-to-one teaching and self-paced learning based on an outline of progressive goals leading to the course/curriculum objectives.

Courses appropriate for individualized instruction are usually those that require skill building. These include such courses as keyboarding, drafting, and computer skills. With adequate planning and appropriate instructional materials, theory courses can be successfully taught using the individualized instruction method. One key to the success of individualized instruction is the quality of the lesson plans.

Benefits: Several benefits, available to schools who elect to use the individualized method of instruction, are shown below.

  • Individualized instruction allows a student who is above or below "average" to proceed at the student’s own pace for optimal learning.
  • Students do not have to repeat portions of a course that they have already mastered.
  • Students learn the self-discipline needed to motivate themselves and to keep their progress on target.
  • Students can check their own results on class work and seek help when needed.

Drawbacks: These need to be considered prior to proposing use of this teaching method.

  • Not all students will benefit from individualized instruction. Some students need greater interaction with the teacher and classmates than is available using this method. Students with low reading ability may have difficult progressing through materials which are presented primarily in writing.
  • In order to properly monitor students’ progress, additional recordkeeping is necessary; student progress charts are a necessity and must be kept up to date and reviewed by the teacher.
  • Lesson plans must include activities for all students while the teacher is working with one or a few students.
  • Additional pre- and post-testing is necessary to ensure that students begin instruction at the appropriate level and that objectives are satisfied.
  • Space must be provided for storing student records, student folders, and shared student materials.

Procedures: In order to ensure an educationally sound individualized instruction program, the following factors are taken into consideration when determining whether a course/curriculum is being taught as approved.

  • The teacher provides each student with an assignment sheet identifying each lesson’s objective and requirements and the required order of completion of lessons.
  • A student progress chart indicates what assignments each student has successfully completed. The progress chart will be kept by the teacher and will be available for student reference.
  • A folder including a copy of the assignment sheet and all projects/assignments is kept by each student. It is recommended that space be provided in the classroom for storage of these folders.
  • Only closely related subject areas are taught at the same time in one room by one teacher; for example, word processing, spreadsheets, and desktop publishing may be taught in the same room by one teacher who is licensed to teach all these courses.
  • When using individualized instruction, each licensed business teacher may teach a maximum of three different courses in his/her license area at one time.
  • When using individualized instruction, each licensed trade teacher may teach up to two separately approved curricula of similar content in his/license area; e.g., Architectural Drafting and Mechanical Drafting.
  • A student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress is provided with remediation on the material with which the student is having difficulty. Satisfactory academic progress for individualized instruction includes both a minimum cumulative average and completion of content in proportion to the number of hours in the course/curriculum.
  • Students in non-TAP programs must complete or test out of all topics for the course/curriculum in order to receive a completion certificate.
  • Students in TAP programs must complete or test out of all curriculum core requirements and complete at least 1440 hours of instruction in order to receive the completion certificate. If a student completes the curriculum core requirements early, TAP funds may be collected only for each full term or quarter in which the student is in full-time attendance. Electives approved within the curriculum may be used to complete a term, quarter, or the total hours of the curriculum.
  • Textbooks designed for individualized instruction are used wherever available and appropriate.
  • A computerized approach is used wherever appropriate.

Individualized instruction must not be used as a means to combine classes for the sake of hiring fewer teachers. Extensive teacher interaction with individuals may require smaller class sizes and additional preparation time for teachers. It may be necessary to hire additional staff to assist in the record keeping. Students must receive instruction from the licensed teacher, not merely be allowed to use a school’s facilities.

Due to intensive teacher-student interaction necessary in starting new students in an individualized setting, programs are more successful when the number of starts within a classroom are limited. It is recommended that there should be no more than two starts in a classroom each week.