Section 6g: Approval of instructional materials
(g) Instructional materials used in alternative learning experiences must be approved pursuant to school board policies adopted in accordance with RCW 28A.320.230.
Existing Washington State law (RCW 28A.320.230) requires each school district board of directors to adopt policy on the selection and deletion of instructional materials. Materials used in ALE programs are subject to this requirement. Whether or not the use of a particular instructional resource must be approved by the school board depends on the school district policy.
A. The simple answer is no.
Last updated: 7/15/2011
Q1. Must a school district assume and exercise responsibility for the instructional content of a student's alternative learning experience, including the instructional or learning materials used by the student, as a condition to claiming state funding based on the time spent by the student while engaged in such activities?
Q2. May a school disclaim responsibility in whole or part for the instructional content of a student's off-campus learning activities or permit non-school district personnel to select the instructional or learning material used by the student and, nevertheless, claim state funding so long as the student meets performance expectations?
A. The short answer to the first question is "yes" and the short answer to the second question is "no."
The Superintendent of Public Instruction is directed by state law to distribute basic education allocation funding to each school district "operating" a basic education program approved by the State Board of Education. The basis for distribution is the number of average annual full-time equivalent students enrolled in, or participating in, the educational program that a district is "operating." See RCW 28A.150.250.) The term "operate" is defined in relevant part as meaning "to control or direct the functioning of." Thus, to claim state funding for the time spent by a student enrolled in an alternative learning experience, a district must have assumed and exercised control or direction over at least the essential components of the educational activity that the student engaged in.
Logic dictates that the instructional content of a student's learning activities, inclusive of the instructional materials used, is an essential component of an educational program that a school district must assume and exercise direction or control over as a condition to claiming that the district is "operating" the program. This conclusion is buttressed by RCW 28A.320.230, which highlights the importance placed upon the selection and use of instructional materials by requiring the establishment of instructional materials committees and the approval or disapproval of instructional materials by a district's board of directors.
Furthermore, in determining the appropriateness of instructional materials in alternative learning experience programs, school districts should apply the same standards and criteria that apply to classroom instructional materials. This does not mean that the material must be designed for public school classroom use, but that the materials must not be of a nature that would preclude their use in a public school classroom. Parents or other non-school district personnel may of course select alternative instructional materials for a student's use at other times outside the time devoted to meeting the learning goals and performance objectives of the district-approved written student learning plan.
Thus, for a district to claim state funding for time spent by a student while engaged in alternative learning experiences, the district must have assumed and exercised responsibility for the selection of the instructional materials used by the student in accordance with RCW 28A.320.230. Following the "performance only" logic of the second question would likely lead to erroneous state funding for learning experiences that occur away from school which the state and its school districts have assumed no responsibility for, including off-campus private school or private parochial school study.
Last updated: 7/15/2011
Relevant Forms or Samples