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Alternative Education

‚ÄčThe Minnesota Department of Education alternative education mission is to provide viable educational options for students who are experiencing difficulty in the traditional system. The first legislated State-Approved Alternative Programs (SAAP) began in 1988 with four sites serving 4,000 students. Today, more than 162,000 students access alternative education on a part-time or full-time basis. This represents about 17 percent of Minnesota public school students.

Alternative education is designed for students who are at-risk of educational failure. State-Approved Alternative Programs are classified as Area Learning Center (ALC), Alternative Learning Programs (ALP), Contracted Alternatives, and Targeted Services for students in kindergarten through Grade 8.Alternative programs are year-round and may be offered during the day and after school. They are characterized by smaller class sizes and using a hands-on/experiential approach to learning.

Instruction is designed to meet individual student learning styles as well as their social and emotional needs. Teachers build connections with students and focus on vocational and career skills, including independent study options. Community, county and state partnerships provide additional support and resources.

State approved Alternative Programs are governed by these statutes:

  • Graduation Incentives Criteria used to identify at-risk students (Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.68).
  • Continual Learning Plan (CLP) developed annually for each student to outline the steps necessary for grade promotion and/or graduation (Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.128, Subdivision 3).
  • Information to students and families regarding alternative education options (Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.68, Subdivision 6).

Purpose

The legislature finds that it is critical to provide options for children to succeed in school. Therefore, the purpose of this section is to provide incentives for and encourage all Minnesota students who have experienced or are experiencing difficulty in the traditional education system to enroll in alternative programs.

Eligible pupils

A pupil under the age of 21 or who meets the requirements, is eligible to participate in the graduation incentives program, if the pupil:

  • Performs substantially below the performance level for pupils of the same age in a locally determined achievement test;
  • Is behind in satisfactorily completing coursework or obtaining credits for graduation;(More than 6 credits behind)
  • Is pregnant or is a parent;
  • Has been assessed as chemically dependent;
  • Has been excluded or expelled according to sections 121A.40 to 121A.56;
  • Has been referred by a school district for enrollment in an eligible program or a program pursuant to section 124D.69;
  • Is a victim of physical or sexual abuse;
  • Has experienced mental health problems; (Diagnosis by a mental health professional)
  • Has experienced homelessness sometime within six months before requesting a transfer to an eligible program;
  • Speaks English as a second language or has limited English proficiency; or
  • Has withdrawn from school or has been chronically truant; or
  • Is being treated in a hospital in the seven-county metropolitan area for cancer or other life threatening illness or is the sibling of an eligible pupil who is being currently treated, and resides with the pupil's family at least 60 miles beyond the outside boundary of the seven-county metropolitan area.

 

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