ALE Common Questions

Purposes

None.

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General requirements

Q. Can I charge families directly for certain ALE courses (online, remote, or site-based) when I don’t want to claim basic education for the course?

A. These rules apply only for ALE courses claimed for state general apportionment funding. The rules don’t explicitly authorize or limit district practices related to courses or services offered to a student outside the student’s state-funded full-time equivalency.

Note also that students cannot be charged for courses claimed for state funding or for courses that are a part of the student's free basic education.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Is summer school exempt from ALE requirements?

A. If you are not claiming ALE funding in the summer, you don't need to follow the ALE rules.

Last updated: 5/20/2013

Q. How do the truancy laws apply to ALE students?

A. If a student does not have contact with a certificated teacher for five consecutive school days without valid justification, you should be thinking about your truancy procedures and the Becca Bill. OSPI guidance on ALE student truancy can be found in this memo posted on November 5, 2013. Additionally, if a student does not have direct personal contact with a certificated teacher for twenty consecutive school days, you cannot claim funding for the student, as stated in section 7b of the ALE rules.

Last updated: 11/06/2013

Q. Are students in Alternative Learning Experiences (ALE) receiving basic education?

A. Yes, ALE is a delivery model for basic education. Therefore, all ALE courses and programs must meet the requirements of basic education in order to claim state funding.

Last updated: 04/17/2017

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Definitions

Alternative learning experience

Q. What are alternative learning experiences?

A. An alternative learning experience (ALE) is a course or, for grades kindergarten through eight, grade-level coursework, for public school students that are primarily characterized by learning activities that occur away from the regular public school classroom setting. The specific requirements and expectations of these away-from-school learning activities are detailed in a written student learning plan (WSLP) developed and supervised by a certificated public school teacher. In order to receive state basic education funding for ALE, a school district must comply with the ALE funding requirements detailed in WAC 392-121-182.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What does “grade-level course work” mean?

A. The term “grade-level course work” refers to ALEs that are not structured into subject-specific courses, but instead are delivered as a single course that encompasses all the material a student is expected to learn in a given year. For example, a single ALE course that included all of a student’s third grade learning would be considered grade-level coursework. The term is not intended to include experiences that are smaller in scope than a typical course.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What are the regulatory requirements (rules) for alternative learning experiences?

A. Washington state law, RCW 28A.150.325, defines the general requirements for ALE. This law delegates authority to OSPI to develop administrative rules to implement ALE requirements. These requirements are spelled out in WAC 392-121-182. These rules have been in existence for many years, and were most recently amended in August 2013. The ALE rules are school finance rules, allowing school districts to establish programs and claim basic education funding for student learning experiences that occur primarily away from school. This is in contrast to the more commonly used "seat time" requirements for basic education funding, where school districts claim basic funding only for enrolled students who are expected to actually attend school each day for a specified number of hours. In addition to the requirements of WAC 392-121-182, ALE programs must comply with all other existing rules and laws governing public education in Washington state.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. How is ALE different from home-based instruction?

A. Although ALE may be similar to home-based instruction in that it is characterized by learning that occurs away from school, it is not home-based instruction. ALE is a public school learning experience which is planned, developed, and supervised by a public school teacher. Home-based instruction is subject to specific state laws (RCW 28A.200 and RCW 28A.225.010) and planning and supervision falls under the authority of the parent, not the school district. Home-based students may enroll part-time in public school classes and programs, including ALE.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Work-based learning (WBL) is another type of learning program that occurs away from the regular classroom setting. How is work-based learning different from ALE?

A. Separate laws and rules govern work based learning. There are substantial differences between work based learning and ALE in how student FTE is calculated, and in how credit is issued. ALE programs that provide for work-based learning should be clear about these distinctions and the additional requirements of work-based learning pursuant to WAC 392-410-315. Programs should appropriately apply the work-based learning rules (WAC 392-121-124) and not the ALE rules when claiming enrollment for work-based learning programs. More information on WBL can be found on the OSPI Work-based Learning page.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. What is a part-time student?

A. A part-time student is a student who is enrolled in the public school for any amount of time less than a 1.0 FTE, and who is also receiving home-based instruction, or who is also enrolled in an approved private school.

Note that students can split enrollment between a regular instructional program and an ALE program. Generally speaking, these students are not considered to be “part-time” students because their enrollment totals 1.0 FTE between the two programs.

This does not include students enrolled less than full time in school with the agreement of school district officials. Examples of this type of partial enrollment:

  • A high-school senior taking only one or two classes needed to graduate;
  • A teen parent taking a limited course load because of his or her parenting responsibilities;
  • A student with a chronic illness that limits his or her ability to take a full course load.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can a district determine that an ALE program is not open to part-time enrollment? (WAC 392-121-182(1)(a))

A. If the program is operating under WAC 392-121-182, the answer is no. A district may not arbitrarily determine an alternative learning experience program is not open to part-time enrollment. The relevant law is RCW 28A.150.350. In summary, this law requires school districts to allow part-time enrollment "in the same manner as" for other public school students. Thus, ALE programs should not discriminate between full-time and part-time status when enrolling students in the program. Further, programs that may need to limit student enrollment based on budgetary constraints, or program design issues, or for other reasons, and that establish waiting lists, should not discriminate between full-time and part-time status when enrolling students from the waiting list.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. When do I count a student for ancillary services and when do I count them as a part-time student?

A. Ancillary services are any co-curricular service or activity, any health care service or activity, or any other services or activities for or in which kindergarten through 12th grade students receive at a public school. Students receiving regularly scheduled instruction or services should be counted as a part-time student and reported based upon enrolled hours on OSPI form P-223. Students receiving instruction or services that are not regularly scheduled should be reported based upon actual contact hours on OSPI form P-240.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. If a student is enrolled in an online class, and they report to a classroom on a regular schedule to participate in the class, are they considered an ALE student?

A. Students who are participating in a course within the regular classroom setting and schedule are likely not an ALE student, and can be claimed as “seat time” students.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

Q. Can my ALE program offer more than one course type?

A. Yes. ALE programs are free to mix and match course types to provide students with learning options that will meet their needs.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

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Alternative learning experience program

None.

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Certificated teacher and HQT

Teacher certification

Q. Must the teacher responsible for the development of the written student learning plan, the weekly contacts, and the monthly progress reviews, hold a valid Washington state teaching certificate?

A. Yes. The ALE rules define the teacher role in ALE as a Washington state certificated teacher. The rules require that the written student learning plan be developed and supervised by a certificated teacher and that weekly contact and monthly progress reviews be conducted by a certificated teacher. However, if the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, school-based support staff, working with the online certificated teacher, are able to assist in fulfilling some of the ALE requirements in the areas of: developing the WSLP (view section 4(a) or 3(n)), evaluating monthly progress (view section 4(c)), and implementing intervention plans (view section 3(f)).

Last updated: 8/22/2013

Q. What role does the certificated teacher play in an ALE program?

A. Just like in the regular instructional setting, the certificated teacher must hold responsibility for the instructional role in an ALE.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. What characterizes the "instructional role" of the certificated teacher in an ALE?

A. In addition to any direct instruction called for in the WSLP, the instructional role includes, at minimum, responsibility for each course identified on the WSLP, weekly contact, monthly progress reviews, including the determination of satisfactory progress, development and monitoring of the intervention plan; and all periodic course grading, assessment, and evaluation of each ALE course and of the WSLP as a whole, including any intervention plans.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Is direct instruction from a certificated teacher a required part of an ALE course?

A. No, direct instruction from a certificated teacher is not required in an ALE course. However, if direct instruction is provided by a teacher in a core academic course, the teacher must be highly qualified. Regardless of the type of instruction provided, a certificated teacher must carry out the requirements in the ALE rules.

Last updated: 6/4/2013

Q. Do all certificated teachers have to be endorsed in the subject areas in which they teach?

A. Existing teacher certification requirements and teacher assignment requirements apply just as in a regular public school classroom setting, including the highly qualified staff requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 2001 (also known as No Child Left Behind Act).

Last updated: 8/12/2011

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HQT Requirements

Q. What does it mean to be "highly qualified?" What are the specific guidelines for an ALE teacher to be highly qualified?

A. Highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements are federal requirements that are part of Title II, Part A of the ESEA. As noted above, teachers in ALE are subject to the same HQT requirements as teachers in regular instructional programs. Guidance is available in this March 13, 2013 memo.

Last updated: 2/4/2014

Q. Must teachers of core academic subjects in ALE meet federal highly qualified teacher requirements?

A. Yes. The federal HQT requirements apply to all teachers of core academic subjects, regardless of the type of program or educational setting.

Last updated: 2/4/2014

Q. What are the core academic subject areas?

A. The core academic subject areas are:

  • English/Language Arts
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts
  • History
  • Civics/Government
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Foreign Language (designated world languages)
  • Elementary Curriculum

Last updated: 6/4/2013

Q. In cases where multiple teachers interact with the student to provide instruction, direct personal contact, creation and oversight of the written student learning plan, and more, which teacher needs to be Highly Qualified?

A. There is some flexibility in assigning work roles and responsibilities across multiple certificated teachers, and across the various aspects of the “instructional role” of the ALE teacher. A student may be in 5 or 6 courses, and each of those HQ teachers would be listed on the plan. A non-HQ certificated teacher may oversee (manage) the plan and perform weekly contact and the progress evaluation. The HQ teacher should hold ultimate responsibility for the course and ultimate responsibility for student learning.

Last updated: 6/4/2013

Q. If an HQT develops and supervises the WSLP, can another certificated teacher meet the direct personal contact requirements?

A. Yes. There is some flexibility in assigning work roles and responsibilities across multiple certificated teachers, and across the various aspects of the “instructional role” of the ALE teacher. But in the end, the HQT must have real involvement and responsibility for the course.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

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Online teacher certification

Q. When a district contracts with an online provider (either directly or through the DLD catalog), who is responsible for creating a written student learning plan and conducting the rest of the ALE requirements?

A. The contracting district is ultimately responsible for ensuring that ALE requirements are met. Information about the level of support DLD online course providers may provide to meet the requirements can be found on the DLD Courses - ALE support page. Districts should ensure that ALE functions conducted by contractors are properly documented. Check with the online provider in question for more information.

Last updated: 6/4/2013

Q. Does the online teacher name need to be listed on the WSLP as well as the local certificated teacher?

A. Yes. The highly-qualified, WA certificated online teacher needs to be listed for the online course the student is taking. They should also be reported and linked to the student in CEDARS. If a local certificated teacher is managing the plan and fulfilling other requirements such as contact, progress determination, interventions, etc., then it is advised that the managing teacher be listed on the WSLP as well.

Last updated: 2/4/2014

Q. Must teachers of online learning courses meet the HQT requirements?

A. Yes. Teachers who provide instruction in core academic subject areas must meet HQT requirements. This includes teachers of online courses or teachers using online courseware. There may be exceptions when online courseware is used for credit retrieval in certain school settings. Contact the OSPI Title II, Part A office for more information.

Last updated: 2/20/2014

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Instructional Support Services

Q. What role can non-certificated staff or contractors play in an ALE program?

A. ALE programs sometimes make use of “community-based instructors” or other non-certificated staff or contractors who provide instructional support services. These non-certificated individuals must work under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher. The certificated teacher must be highly qualified if the course is in a core academic subject area.

ALE programs should ensure that their use of certificated and non-certificated staff is compliant with the ALE rules (WAC 392-121-182). In particular, the role of the certificated teacher is defined in several places in the ALE rules, including:

  • “Each student participating in an alternative learning experience must have a written student learning plan developed by a certificated teacher that is designed to meet the student's individual educational needs. A certificated teacher must have responsibility and accountability for each course specified in the plan, including supervision and monitoring, and evaluation and documentation of the student's progress.” View Section (4) of the rule.
  • The written student learning plan must include “Identification of the certificated teacher responsible for each course included as part of the plan;" View Section (3)(n) of the rule.
  • Weekly contact must be carried out by a certificated teacher. View Section (4)(b) of the rule.
  • “The educational progress of each student enrolled in an alternative learning experience must be evaluated at least once each calendar month of enrollment by a certificated teacher and the results of each evaluation must be communicated to the student or, if the student is in grades K-8, both the student and the student's parent.” View Section (4)(c) of the rule.
  • “An intervention plan must be developed, documented, and implemented by a certificated teacher in conjunction with the student and, for students in grades K-8, the student's parent(s).” View Section (3)(f) of the rule.

If the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, non-certificated school-based support staff, working with the online certificated teacher, are able to assist in fulfilling some of the ALE requirements in the areas of: developing the WSLP (view section 4(a) or 3(n)), evaluating monthly progress (view section 4(c)), and implementing intervention plans (view section 3(f)). Otherwise, non-certificated staff or contractors cannot fulfill any of those requirements.

Last updated: 8/22/2013

Q.What are “instructional support services”?

A. “Instructional support services” encompasses roles that are often filled by paraprofessionals or teacher aides. (A community-based instructor is also considered an instructional support service provider.) These individuals provide instructional support services as a part of the ALE course, but they are not responsible and accountable for the course. The role of the instructional support service provider is to carry out the lessons and activities that the certificated teacher has planned and prepared. The teacher evaluates the achievements of the students. An instructional support service provider must be working under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. How is “working under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher” defined?

A. “Working under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher” means that communication between the instructional support service provider and the certificated teacher is intentional and frequent while the instructional support activities are carried out.

Last updated: 6/4/2013

Q. What does “intentional and frequent” communication mean in the context of an instructional support service provider “working under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher”?

A. To determine an appropriate frequency, consider the role of the certificated teacher. The certificated teacher has “responsibility and accountability for each course specified in the plan, including supervision and monitoring, and evaluation and documentation of the student's progress.” In cases where non-certificated staff or contractors provide instructional support services, there must be an adequate level of contact to ensure the certificated teacher is able to fulfill his or her role. The contact must be for the purpose of discussing student activities and progress. The appropriate frequency will depend on the nature of the activities carried out by the instructional support service provider and the learning environment. For example, contact might be appropriate on a more daily basis in a face-to-face environment and on a more weekly basis for individuals that are at a distance to each other. Contact that only occurs once a month would likely not be appropriate unless there were other mitigating circumstances. Contact for individuals who are at a distance must be appropriately documented, such as by using a log similar to that used when tracking student-teacher weekly contact.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

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Educational Staff Associate

Q. What role can Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificated staff play in an ALE program?

A. ESA staff can function in the role authorized by their ESA certificate. For example, an ESA counselor can function in a school counselor role, which may include all aspects of guidance and counseling, and may also include ALE student "case-management" responsibilities, particularly with students on intervention plans. If the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, ESA counselors can work with the online certificated teacher in the role of school-based support staff and are able to assist in fulfilling some of the ALE requirements in the areas of: developing the WSLP (view section 4(a) or 3(n)), evaluating monthly progress (view section 4(c)), and implementing intervention plans (view section 3(f)). Otherwise, the ALE rules make clear certain educational activities are the responsibility of a certificated teacher (including development and implementation of the learning plan, weekly contact, monthly progress review) and these responsibilities cannot be delegated to others, including ESA certificated staff.

Last updated: 8/22/2013

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Direct personal contact

Q. For younger students, can the contact be between the teacher and the student’s parent?

A. While in many cases it may be appropriate for the parent to be involved in the contact, ultimately there must be one-to-one contact specifically between the teacher and the student.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Does it count as contact if a student is in attendance for a group class taught by a teacher?

A. Contact in a group setting is not "direct personal contact". But, it is likely "in-person instructional contact", which would count as weekly contact as long as it meets one or more of the specified purposes and relates to the course identified in the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. If a teacher sends out an email message to an email distribution group that includes the student, and the student responds back to the email message, does this meet the definition?

A. An email message sent concurrently to a group of students does not meet the requirement that the contact be a "one-to-one meeting between a certificated teacher and the student" and include a "two-way exchange of information between a certificated teacher and the student."

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Is there a minimum length of time requirement for the weekly direct personal contact?

A. No. There are no time requirements for direct personal contact.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Is texting an acceptable means of direct personal contact and how can it be documented?

A. Yes. This would be similar to instant messaging. The challenge is to have a meaningful interaction that meets the requirements. To document the contact, keep a log of the contact as described in section 10 (documentation).

Last updated: 5/20/2013

Q. Can two-way contact be accomplished by a student submitting work to a learning management system or participating in an online discussion forum?

A. It can be. Work submitted to an electronic tool and the teacher giving feedback through an electronic tool could be considered two-way contact as long as there isn’t too much time between feedback, and it happens within the week. It would be expected that there was a substantial exchange of information—not just a grade. We wouldn’t expect it to be the only means of communication a teacher had with a student throughout the course. Good practice is to communicate in a way that builds a relationship with students.

Last updated: 5/20/2013

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In-person instructional contact

None.

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Intervention plan

Q. Can a parent develop the intervention plan?

A. No. The intervention plan must be developed by a certificated teacher in conjunction with the student and, for students in grades K-8, the student’s parent(s). If the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, the intervention plan may be developed by school-based support staff in conjunction with the student, parents (if grades K-8), and online certificated teacher. It must be approved by the teacher.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What if the intervention plan does not include one of the four listed interventions?

A. To meet the definition of an intervention plan as used throughout the ALE rule, at least one of the four interventions must be included as part of the plan.

Last updated: 7/18/2011

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Parent

None.

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Satisfactory progress

Q. Can someone else, such as a parent, determine if the student is making satisfactory progress?

A. No. For the purposes on monthly progress review, a certificated teacher must determine if the student is making satisfactory progress. A certificated teacher can take parent input into consideration when determining student progress. But, the teacher should rely on more than just parent input to make the determination.

However, if the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, school-based support staff may use the progress grades posted by the online teacher and may take into account non-academic factors or local school expectations to finalize the determination. School-based support staff must follow school policy and procedures.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. How do I determine if a student is making satisfactory progress? Do I determine this by course or by the whole WSLP?

A. While the determination of satisfactory progress is made based on the entirety of the WSLP, in practice this aggregate determination should be made based on a review of each course included in the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. What process do I follow to determine if a student is making satisfactory progress?

A. The rules do not specify a required process. How the determination is made will vary by grade-level, program design, course content, and other factors based on the WSLP including learning goals, performance objectives, learning activities. The timelines and methods which determine satisfactory progress must be outlined on the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can I include non-academic considerations, such as attendance, attitude, and behavior, when determining satisfactory progress?

A. It is up to each program to establish the dimensions and methods for determining satisfactory progress. Nothing prohibits non-academic considerations from being considered in this process, if these non-academic considerations are included in the WSLP. Keep in mind the primary purposes of the monthly determination of satisfactory progress: first, to track student progress toward the successful completion of each course included in the WSLP; and second, to establish whether an intervention plan must be developed to improve student progress toward to the goals of the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. What is meant by the “non-academic factors or local school expectations” that can be taken into account by the school-based support staff in determining satisfactory progress?

A. Non-academic factors might include topics such as attendance, attitude, and behavior. Local school expectations might include a situation where a student’s pace in the course is taken in account as well as the student’s performance. For example, some online courses allow flexibility with due dates and post progress grades based solely on work the student has turned in. However, the local school may want to include the student’s pace in the course as part of the determination of satisfactory progress. It is advised to include these factors and expectations in section (vii) of the WSLP where the methods of evaluation progress are described. More information about handling these factors can be found here.

Last updated: 8/27/2013

Q. Must a highly qualified teacher determine satisfactory progress?

A. An overall determination of satisfactory progress could be based on documented input from the HQ teachers of each course identified on the WSLP, but progress for the overall plan could be determined by a certificated teacher responsible for the overall plan with input from the HQ teacher(s) of each course identified on the plan. If the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, school-based support staff may use the progress grades posted by the online teacher and may take into account non-academic factors or local school expectations to finalize the determination. School-based support staff must follow school policy and procedures.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

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School week



Q. If the district’s schools are in session for three days in a week, as in the week of Thanksgiving, does it count as a “school week”?

A. Yes, a three-day week counts as a school week. ALE programs should plan accordingly in order to meet the weekly contact requirements.

Last updated: 8/16/2012

Q. What determines if a school is “in session” or not?

A. The school district’s official calendar defines holidays and other times when school is or isn’t in session. School cancellations due to weather or other factors must be publicly announced to meet the requirement of “not in session”.

Last updated: 8/16/2012

Q. Do we need to make up weekly contact for a week that contains fewer than three school days?

A. No. Weekly contact is not required for any week that is not considered a “school week.”

Last updated: 8/16/2012

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School-based support staff



None.

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Substantially similar experiences and services

Q. What if the learning activities are provided by district employees as part of their district duties?

A. Generally speaking, learning activities provided by district staff—those employees actually hired by the district—are not subject to this prohibition. Keep in mind that the employee providing the learning activity is subject to all district employee rules and requirements, including fingerprint background checks. Districts should discuss with their legal counsel and insurance providers any activities that are performed regularly by employees in non-district owned facilities to determine what liabilities should be addressed.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. The definition applies to "…purchasing or contracting for instructional or co-curricular experiences and services that are included in an alternative learning experience written student learning plan…" What about experiences or services not included in the WSLP?

A. For ALE, the WSLP represents the student’s academic program. It describes the course or courses the student is taking, including the learning activities for each course—it defines the student’s full alternative learning experience. Therefore, for an ALE student, there is no basis for the district to pay for any courses, experiences, or services not included in the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Is there a reporting requirement associated with this new prohibition?

A. Yes. When a district purchases or contracts for instructional or co-curricular experiences and services in the ALE, and makes available substantially similar experiences or services to students in the regular instructional program, the district must report annually to OSPI both the purchased or contracted for ALE activity AND the substantially similar regular instructional program activity. See section 9(b) regarding reporting requirements.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can a completed substantially similar checklist meet the reporting requirements?

A. The annual substantially similar report must be done using the form provided in EDS. But, if you have completed the checklist for each item, it’ll make it much easier to complete the report. And, having the completed checklists available can also assist districts in the event of an audit.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Who is responsible for offering, documenting and reporting “substantially similar” for a choice transfer student? What about a student shared between districts via an inter-district agreement?

A. The district that enrolls the choice student into the ALE program is responsible for offering, documenting, and reporting the substantially similar experiences/services. When a student is shared, the district that is offering the ALE program is responsible for offering, documenting, and reporting substantially similar experiences/services. If both districts offer ALE, then both are responsible for offering, documenting, and reporting their respective substantially similar offerings.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can a student enrolled in the regular instructional program take a course through the ALE funding model and therefore act as the "substantially similar" experience for students enrolled in the ALE program?

A. No. The "substantially similar" experiences or services must be offered in the district’s regular instructional program. Simply making ALE courses available to students in the regular program does not meet the "substantially similar" standard.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

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Synchronous digital instructional contact

Q. Does this include email, text messaging, or Twitter?

A. No. These types of electronic exchange do not meet the "real-time" aspect of this definition.

Last updated: 8/19/2011

Q. What about interactive chat that occurs via a learning management system that is a part of many online courses?

A. This type of interaction could meet the requirement as long as it meets one or more of the specified purposes and relates to the course identified in the WSLP.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

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Total weekly time



None.

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Written student learning plan

Q. The rule says the plan must be "developed" by the teacher. What if someone else creates the plan and the teacher approves it?

A. While parents or others may play an active role in determining the content of the plan, the certificated teacher is ultimately responsible for its development and is accountable for its content. For students whose WSLP includes only online courses, a certificated teacher or school-based support staff may develop and approve the plan.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What constitutes teacher approval and what is the expectation for documenting this requirement?

A. Teacher approval is a method of documenting that a certificated teacher approved a specific student's individualized WSLP on a specified date. This can be accomplished using different mechanisms, such as a dated teacher signature on the WSLP or an electronic system that would log final approval. The importance of this requirement is to ensure the individualized WSLP was approved by a certificated teacher prior to the WSLP start date and monthly count date for enrollment reporting.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. How can a syllabus be used as a component of the WSLP?

A. A good course syllabus can be an ideal component of a WSLP. However, all eight components of the WSLP must be included. If the WSLP references a syllabus that is documented in the plan, then the syllabus should be available to the student. The specific version of the syllabus should then be retained as per the district retention schedule.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can the district course codes be used on the WSLP instead of the CEDARS code?

A. A district code could be included on the WSLP as long as the alignment between the CEDARS and district codes is easily available to all impacted parties, such as the student, their parent, OSPI, or an auditor. ALE programs are still required to report using the CEDARS codes, not district codes.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. The learning plan must identify "all" instructional materials that will be used to complete the WSLP? What is meant by "all?" What is included in "instructional materials?"

A. The purpose of identifying all instructional materials is to ensure both the teacher and the student clearly understand what instructional materials are required to complete the course. In this context, "all" means any of the essential materials the student needs to complete the plan. The materials should be identified specifically enough so that a third party, such as a substitute teacher or the student’s parent, will know what is required. Instructional materials include textbooks, curricula, workbooks, manipulatives (except in unique situations, it is not necessary to specify each individual item), and essential equipment (like a calculator for a math course). Instructional materials do not include supplies and other types of consumable, non-instructional items.

For example, if a goal for a math course was: Sam will develop an understanding of the following math concepts by the end of the month.

  1. Understand place value in whole numbers.
  2. Understand sequential relationships among whole numbers.
  3. Understand the meaning of addition and subtraction and how they relate to one another.
  4. Understand how to recognize and create equivalent mathematical models and representations in familiar situations.

A listing of the instructional materials might be: Bridging Mathematics, Houghton Mifflin; Saxon Math Workbook, Level 3; manipulative.

The statement "a variety of textbooks and workbooks" would not meet the requirement of identification of instructional materials.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q. What constitutes a learning activity? What are examples of learning activities?

A. A learning activity is a specific, assignment level activity the student must complete. These rules are asking you to outline the full course for the duration of the WSLP. It can be updated as needed to meet the needs of the student, but the course needs to be up front and clear as to what specific activities the student will need to complete. This information may be present on a course syllabus. For an outcome based model, consider any scaffolding activities that a student would complete on their way to progressing towards their learning goals. Type of learning activities could include problem sets, required readings, exams, or any other type of assignment that helps a student meet the outlined performance objectives.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. How do I estimate the average number of hours per week?

A. The estimate will depend on the number of courses identified in the WSLP, and the duration of the plan. A good starting point for a learning plan that includes typical semester courses is one hour per day per course. Programs with other schedules should adjust as appropriate. ALE programs should strongly consider establishing program procedures teachers can follow to ensure consistent, accurate estimates for all students.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Do we have to use the WSLP templates provided by OSPI?

A. No. The sample forms are intended to be examples that districts can use as is, modify as needed, or create something completely different. The ALE rules don’t prescribe a specific format. What is most important is that the plan address all eight required elements.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

Q. Does the WSLP need to be signed by the student and/or parent?

A. There is no signature requirement in the rules, but programs may use signatures as a part of their documentation procedures.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

Q. Do the performance objectives need to be specified by month (April, May, etc) or can they just be written as course performance objectives?

A. They can be written as course performance objectives rather than monthly objectives but should include measures of success so that the student knows what they need to accomplish in order to progress satisfactorily and the progress can be documented on the monthly evaluation.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. Can the entire WSLP inclusive of attached syllabi be a portfolio?

A. It doesn't matter what form the WSLP takes as long as it meets the rules, and it is in a form the auditors can easily work with when they review.

Last updated: 5/29/2013

Q. What is the difference between section (iv) and (vii) in terms of "methods of evaluating progress." If section (iv) asks us to write the WSLP to identify how progress will be evaluated, how is that different than section (vii)?

A. Section (iv) is the "what"--goals, objectives and activities. Section (vii) explains "how"--the timelines and methods. Specify the methods you are going to use to determine satisfactory progress such as grades, percent completed, expectations around student contact, making progress in 4 out of 5 courses, etc.

Last updated: 5/29/2013

Q. In regard to section (iv) and (vii), can we say in the WSLP, "See Monthly Report", since that is how I am documenting actual student progress toward goals?

A. No. The learning plan explains ahead of time what the student is going to be working on and how they are going to be evaluated. That is different than documenting how the student actually performed.

Last updated: 5/29/2013

Q. Do I have to adjust the WSLP and syllabus if a student isn't making progress at the pace that was planned?

A. Yes. The WSLP should include the learning activities, goals and objectives, and the timeline of when they will be evaluated for each student. If the monthly evaluation suggests a change of the student’s activities, goals, and objectives, the WSLP should be updated accordingly.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q. When is the soonest teachers can approve WSLPs for the fall?

A. It would be problematic to approve WSLPs too early--before a student has completed or mostly completed the current learning plan. We would expect plans for the fall to be approved in the last few weeks of school.

Last updated: 5/29/2013

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ALE program requirements

Written Student Learning Plan

Q. Can the parent write the WSLP?

A. No. Each student must have a WSLP developed by a certificated teacher. While parents may play an active role in determining the content of the plan, the teacher is ultimately responsible for its development and is accountable for its content. For students whose WSLP includes only online courses, a certificated teacher or school-based support staff may develop and approve the plan.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Must the parent approve the WSLP?

A. No, although local program procedures can define the role of a parent with respect to WSLP development.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

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Weekly contact

Q. Can we mix and match the types of weekly contact for a student throughout the year?

A. Yes. A program can fulfill the weekly contact requirement by having direct personal contact with a student one week and in-person instructional contact the next week, for example.

Last updated: 8/16/2012

Q. If a student is taking courses in both an ALE program and a regular education program, can the face-to-face time spent with a teacher in the regular program count as the face-to-face instructional contact time for ALE?

A. Contact time in non-ALE courses doesn’t apply to the ALE requirements. The face-to-face instructional contact time (or synchronous digital contact time) needs to specifically relate to the ALE WSLP.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. Is there a minimum amount of time established to count as "weekly contact?"

A. There is not a minimum amount of time established. The weekly contact can be either direct personal contact, or in-person instructional contact, or synchronous digital instructional contact. Contact must be with a certificated teacher for the purposes of instruction, review of assignments, testing, reporting of student progress, or other learning activities. The amount of time for a particular weekly contact should reflect these parameters and the individual needs of a student at that particular time and be appropriately documented. (See sample weekly contact logs.)

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. What will constitute adequate documentation of weekly contact?

A. Evidence of direct personal contact must include the date of the direct personal contact, the method of communication by which the direct personal contact was accomplished, and documentation to support the subject of the communication. For students receiving either in-person instructional contact time or synchronous digital instructional contact time in regularly-scheduled classes, evidence may include classroom attendance records. Documentation should also include confirmation that the contact was with a certificated teacher.

Additional examples of documentation may be found in Section (10).

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q. If a student misses a weekly contact, is it necessary to make-up a missed weekly meeting?

A. Weekly contact is a required component of an ALE course of study. On rare occasions there may be circumstances where it will not be possible to meet weekly with a student. Every effort should be made to make up missed weekly contacts. When a student displays a pattern of missed weekly contacts, the student is not following the requirements of the WSLP and an intervention plan must be developed for that student. If the student fails to make contact for twenty consecutive school days prior to the count date, the student must not be included in monthly enrollment reporting until the student resumes participation in the ALE.

Last updated: 8/21/2012

Q. Can the monthly evaluation meeting count as the weekly direct personal contact for the week in which it occurs (as opposed to having two separate contacts)?

A. Yes. The progress evaluation must include direct personal contact with a certificated teacher and thus can meet both requirements at the same time. However, if the ALE program has decided to communicate, without direct personal contact, the progress evaluation to a student who, after the initial month of satisfactory progress, continues to perform satisfactorily, then a separate weekly contact must be made with the student.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What do you do when you cannot get the students to respond to the teacher’s email, but they are progressing in their courses?

A. Without weekly contact, the student is not fulfilling the requirements of the ALE rules. You may need to look at different methods such as the phone, Skype or meet with the student face-to-face. Weekly contact helps a teacher and student build a relationship that contributes to deeper learning opportunities and minimizes academic integrity concerns.

Last updated: 5/20/2013

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Monthly evaluation and satisfactory progress

Q. For K-8 students, must the parent be present for the progress evaluation?

A. No. However, the results of the progress evaluation must be communicated with the parent. The parent communication should be documented. For example, if the parent was present during a face-to-face meeting, and that meeting was documented using a log, then information about the parent’s presence could be added to the log.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q. What documentation is necessary to verify monthly progress?

A. Each student’s monthly progress evaluation should definitively state if the student made satisfactory progress or not. This statement should be signed (physically or digitally) and dated by the reviewing teacher. If a student’s WSLP includes only online courses, progress grades posted in the learning management system may serve as the documentation of determining satisfactory progress.

Beyond this, the documentation should clearly show that the evaluation was conducted in a manner consistent with the rules.

Because the ALE rules don’t proscribe a specific evaluation method, nor do they define what is or isn’t satisfactory (beyond the basic definition), the documentation will vary depending on the methods used. Districts have significant flexibility in creating an evaluation system that best meets the needs of students. However, the rules do include several specific provisions that will strongly influence how the evaluation is conducted and documented.

(4)(c)(i) “Each student's educational progress evaluation must be based on the learning goals and performance objectives defined in the written student learning plan.”

Based on this rule, the evaluation documentation must refer to the learning goals and performance objectives defined in the WSLP. This also highlights how vitally important it is to write a WSLP “in a manner that facilitates monthly evaluation of student progress” (See section (3)(n)(iv)).

(4)(c)(ii) “The evaluation of satisfactory progress must be conducted in a manner consistent with school district student evaluation or grading procedures, and be based on the professional judgment of a certificated teacher.”

The documentation should also indicate that the evaluation was conducted in a manner consistent with the district’s student evaluation/grading procedures. Having those policies/procedures available for the auditors will help as well.

(4)(c)(v) “Based on the progress evaluation, a certificated teacher must determine and document whether the student is making satisfactory progress reaching the learning goals and performance objectives defined in the written student learning plan.”

This third rule highlights the requirement that the evaluation be conducted by a certificated teacher. Some ALE programs feature significant involvement by parents. While this can be a valuable educational option, it should be clear that the teacher, not the parent, is the one conducting the student evaluation. The teacher can, and should, use their professional judgment when conducting the evaluation.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q.If a student enrolls late in the month, does the student need a monthly review of progress?

A. You do not need to do an evaluation for a student who enrolled after the count date. However, in some cases (such as a student who participated for a majority of the month) it may make educational sense for the student to be evaluated, and in those cases, an evaluation should be done.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. Who will determine if "satisfactory progress" is being made?

A. A certificated teacher must determine if satisfactory progress is being made by determining a student's progress toward achieving the learning goals, performance objectives and completion of the learning activities specified in the written student learning plan. The WSLP must be developed in a manner that facilitates monthly evaluation of student progress. The teacher may use a number of factors to come to this determination including, but not limited to, assessment results, parent feedback, attendance, running records, subjective and objective data, educational artifacts, etc., but the WSLP must include a description of the timelines and methods for evaluating student progress so the student knows how satisfactory progress is determined. However, if the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, school-based support staff may use the progress grades posted by the online teacher and may take into account non-academic factors or local school expectations to finalize the determination. School-based support staff must follow school policy and procedures.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Is there a required format or directive on how to determine what satisfactory progress means?

A. No. ALE programs represent a diverse range of structure and delivery. Mandating a process for determining satisfactory progress is counterproductive to the intent of ALE of allowing for flexible and innovative programs and services that meet the unique needs of the students they serve. Each school district will define the process by which ALE teachers will determine if satisfactory progress is being made. This process should be established as part of adopted board policy and procedure.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can a certificated instructional staff member make the determination of satisfactory progress on a monthly basis, and then delegate the communication of the decision to a classified staff?

A. It depends. The rules require that monthly progress reviews be conducted by a certificated teacher, and the results of the reviews be communicated to the student and, where necessary, the student's parent. However, if the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, school-based support staff may use the progress grades posted by the online teacher and may take into account non-academic factors or local school expectations to finalize the determination. School-based support staff must follow school policy and procedures.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. Can the monthly progress evaluation occur on the first day of school?

A. No. The rules state that the “educational progress of each student…must be evaluated at least once each calendar month of enrollment” (subsection 4(c)). The definition of “satisfactory progress” also speaks of the “student's progress toward achieving the specific learning goals and performance objectives specified in the written student learning plan”. Both statements highlight the notion of student “progress.” In order for there to be some student progress to evaluate, some time must past between the start of school and the initial evaluation. As a result, it would not be appropriate to conduct a progress evaluation on the first few days of school.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

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Nonsatisfactory progress and intervention plan

Q. Is there a certain process ALE programs should follow to develop an intervention plan?

A. An intervention plan must be developed, documented, and implemented by a certificated teacher in conjunction with the student and, for students in grades K-8, the student's parent(s). If the student’s WSLP includes only online courses, the intervention plan may be developed by school-based support staff in conjunction with the student, parents (if grades K-8), and online certificated teacher. It must be approved by the teacher.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

Q. What should an intervention plan look like?

A. At minimum, the intervention plan must include at least one of the following interventions:

  1. Increasing the frequency or duration of direct personal contact for the purposes of enhancing the ability of the certificated teacher to improve student learning;
  2. Modifying the manner in which direct personal contact is accomplished;
  3. Modifying the student's learning goals or performance objectives;
  4. Modifying the number of or scope of courses or the content included in the learning plan.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. What needs to happen if a student hasn’t made satisfactory progress in three consecutive calendar months?

A. The intent behind this rule is to ensure that the student has an opportunity for success. If after three months of unsatisfactory progress (and the attendant intervention plans), the student is still not making satisfactory progress, then a change is in order.

The rules state that if a student has three months of unsatisfactory progress, then “a course of study designed to more appropriately meet the student's educational needs must be developed and implemented by a certificated teacher”. This new course of study could either take the form of a major change in the student’s WSLP or placing the student in another educational program offered by the school district.

A major change could include enrolling the student in different classes, or dramatically altering the type of student-teacher interaction.

A student’s third month of unsatisfactory progress could occur within 20 school days of the end of the semester. In that case, if the district determines that the student will be best served by being enrolled in another educational option, and the student’s best interests are served by having the new option start at the semester, the student may stay enrolled, and the district may continue to claim the student for funding, in the current program until the semester break. If the student’s third month of unsatisfactory progress occurs within 20 school days of the end of the school year, the district may also continue to claim the student provided the district works to ensure the student is place in an appropriate educational option for the following school year.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

Q. If we do intervention plans with a student and the student still does not make progress, must we drop the student from the ALE?

A. Section 4(c) of the rule addresses intervention plan requirements. If the student is not making satisfactory progress, despite an intervention plan, then the district should design a course of study to more appropriately meet the student’s educational needs. This may include removal of the student from the alternative learning experience and enrollment of the student in another educational program offered by the district. If the program doesn't have the flexibility to design a new course of study, the district may need to find another educational option for that student.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

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Last month of the school year

Q. What does the monthly progress evaluation look like in June? Is an intervention plan required after the June monthly evaluation?

A. The June monthly evaluation can consist of delivering final grades to the student. The evaluation must meet all of the normal monthly progress evaluation requirements. If the evaluation is delivered within the last five school days of the school year, an intervention plan is not required.

Last updated: 5/31/2012

Q. If grades can be looked up online, does that satisfy the requirement of the final evaluation in June or does it need to be a paper report?

A. Yes. An online tool can be used to report grades in June as long as the student knows how to access the grades.

Last updated: 5/20/2013

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Board policy

Q. The ALE rules state that the school district board of directors "must adopt and annually review written policies authorizing such alternative learning experiences…" Does this mean that a district must have a separate board policy for each of the ALE programs operated by the district?

A. A school district may have a single board policy in place that authorizes more than one ALE program and/or the availability of individual ALE courses to regular instructional students. However, the school district board of directors should develop separate policies authorizing each ALE program if these programs operate in distinctly different ways from each other, such as an elementary parent partnership program and a secondary online program.

Last updated: 7/15/2011

Q. Are there sample board policies available?

A. Sample board policies are available from WSSDA. For more information, contact WSSDA's Director for Policy & Legal Services.

Last updated: 11/19/2012

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Implementation requirements

Access for all students

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Contracting

Q. Are courses purchased through the DLD course catalog subject to WAC 392-121-188?

A. Yes. WAC 392-121-188 applies equally to districts contracting directly with a provider or to those using the DLD catalog. See the DLD district responsibilities for more information.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

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Instructional materials

Q. The ALE rules require the school district to ensure that students have all curricula, course content, instructional materials, and other learning resources identified in the WSLP. What is the intent of this requirement?

A. The school district receives basic education funding for students enrolled in ALE programs, just like for students enrolled in regular classroom-based educational programs, and is therefore responsible for the provision of curricula, course content, instructional material, and learning activities as specified in the WSLP. This is distinct from home-based instruction, where the parent and student are responsible for the provision of these resources.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

Q. Do all instructional materials used in an ALE program need to be approved by the school board?

A. 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.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

Q. For an online course, does this mean the ALE program must provide the student with a computer?

A. No. But if the student’s WSLP includes online courses, the ALE program must ensure that the student can actually complete the courses. This may include verifying the student has personal or family access to an Internet connected computer at home or at school, or it may mean directing the student to nearby public resources such as a library. The ALE program would need to clearly identify any enrollment requirements, including access to a computer and Internet for the completion of coursework.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

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Compensation to students or parents

Q. The requirement states "…unless otherwise required by law." Are there examples where the law authorizes parental reimbursement?

A. Under certain circumstances parents may be reimbursed for some costs associated with the provision of related services identified on individual education program (IEP) for a student approved to receiving special education services.

Last updated: 7/15/2011

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Compensation to school district employees

None.

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Quality of instructional materials

None.

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Approval of instructional materials

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

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Purchase of instructional materials

Q. If the district has no need for purchased materials after the ALE course is completed, is there a way to give the materials to the student?

A. No. State law defines procedures districts must follow when disposing of surplus materials. See RCW 28A.335.180.

Last updated: 7/15/2011

Q. Can a district purchase consumable supplies for an ALE program?

A. Purchase of consumable supplies is subject to local district policy and procedure. The rules are silent on the purchase of consumable supplies.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

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Purchasing or contracting for instructional or cocurricular experiences and services

(See also comments and questions under subsection 3(k))

Q. What is a "substantially similar experience or service?"

A. As defined in the rule, "substantially similar experiences and services" means that for each purchased or contracted instructional or co-curricular course; lesson; trip; or other experience, service, or activity identified on an alternative learning experience written student learning plan, there is an identical or similar experience, service, or activity made available to students enrolled in the district’s regular instructional program:

  1. At a similar grade level;
  2. At a similar level of frequency, intensity, and duration including, but not limited to, consideration of individual versus group instruction;
  3. At a similar level of costs to the student with regard to any related club, group, or association memberships; admission, enrollment, registration, rental or other participation fees; or any other expense associated with the experience or service;
  4. In accordance with district-adopted content standards or state-defined grade level standards; and
  5. That is supervised, monitored, assess, evaluated, and documented by a certificated teacher.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. How do I apply this prohibition to my program?

A. For any course identified in the WSLP that includes lessons, trips, services or other experiences or activities that are purchased or contracted for by the district, a district must offer substantially similar experiences or activities to students in the regular instructional program, according to the criteria included in the definition.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. Will OSPI endorse or pre-approve our district’s substantially similar activities?

A. No. Each district is responsible for making all determinations that substantially similar activities or experiences are in fact made available to students in the regular instructional program. In other words, neither OSPI nor any other non-district entity will be in a pre-approval role for such determinations. Districts should make their own determinations recognizing that their decisions will be subject to state audit, and that each purchased or contracted experience, along with the substantially similar experience made available to students in the regular instructional program, must be reported annually to OSPI. This implies that districts should establish clear documentation on each determination made.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. What kinds of experiences, services, or activities are included in this prohibition?

A. With the exception of courses purchased or provided under contract from an OSPI-approved online course or program provider (this includes all the courses listed on OSPI’s Digital Learning Department online course catalog), any course identified in the WSLP that is purchased from or provided under contract with a third party is subject to the prohibition. Also, any purchased or contracted experience or service that is part of a course identified in the WSLP is subject to the prohibition.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. What are some examples of purchased or contracted services or activities subject to this prohibition?

A. Private classes or lessons for music (instrumental or voice), dance, painting, photography or other arts-related content; private classes or lessons for skiing, martial arts, tennis, golf or other physical education or fitness-related content; paid gym memberships; dues, fees, or other costs for recreational or competitive sports leagues or teams; private tutoring; private personal athletic training; traffic safety education courses; other privately-provided specialty-content courses such as astronomy, robotics, needlecraft; membership dues or admission fees for museums, concerts, ball games, recreation facilities, etc.; and costs associated with field trips and other off-site learning events or experiences. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather an illustrative list.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. The definition includes "…at a similar grade-level." What if the substantially similar activity is available to all students within a grade grouping, such as middle school, rather than at a specific grade level?

A. This would meet the requirement that it be "…at a similar grade-level" and therefore be allowable so long as students within the grade grouping actually have access to the substantially similar activity. For example, if the similar activity in the regular instructional program is a high school PE course in which only juniors and seniors can enroll, while in the ALE program only students in elementary grades can enroll in the course, this would not meet the substantially similar criteria.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. So how do I apply the substantially similar prohibition?

A. This checklist provides guiding questions to determine if a district’s offers meet the substantially similar requirements.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. What are some examples of experiences or activities that would meet the substantially similar criteria?

A. The following are a few illustrative examples:

  • In some situations, a typical music course in a regular instructional program could be considered substantially similar to district-purchased private group music lessons as part of a music course on a WSLP, but not to district-purchased private individual music lessons as part of that music course.
  • Paying for ALE student enrollment in Traffic Safety Education (TSE) as an elective course, while students in the regular education program do not have access to school-based TSE or must pay out of pocket for commercial TSE would in most cases NOT meet the substantially similar exception to the purchasing or contracting prohibition.
  • A typical middle school PE course in a regular instructional program would not be considered substantially similar to a middle school PE course in an ALE program that includes paid membership to a private athletic club.
  • Paying for ALE student enrollment in private professional math tutoring, while students in the regular education program have access only to school-based peer math tutors or must pay out of pocket for the same private professional tutoring would in most cases NOT meet the substantially similar exception to the purchasing or contracting prohibition.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. Can we use state funding for non-academic activities? These would be activities that are not on the WSLP's and not counted as a part of the required weekly ALE hours, such as field trips, school assemblies, or after-school clubs.

A: If an activity isn’t a “course of study” under WAC 392-410, then the time the student spends doing the activity can’t be claimed for state apportionment under ALE. So, an activity that is not a part of a course of study that meets the 392-410 requirements should not be included on the WSLP. School districts do, however, have some discretion around how they spend money, so you could, in theory, offer activities that aren’t included on the WSLP. You’ll want to, of course, make sure any such ancillary services are consistent with school board policies and are otherwise authorized. As a general rule of thumb, you should treat after school activities for ALE students in the same manner as they’re treated for students in the regular instructional program. If there are participation fees for those programs for students in the regular instructional program, then you should charge similar fees to students in ALE. Because after school activities like this aren’t included on the WSLPs, they’re not subject to the ALE “substantially similar” requirements but it would be prudent to think about them in a similar way. This approach does not require that you provide the same after school activities to students in both programs, but treating activities (and any costs to students) in a similar manner is probably a smart approach.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

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Home-based instruction

Q. Does the Statement of Understanding for students enrolled in ALE courses need to be completed every year or just upon enrollment?

A. The letter does not need to be filed annually. It does need to be filed within 30 days of enrolling the student. As long as the student is continually enrolled, we would not expect to see a letter filed each year. However, if the student left the program and re-enrolled, a letter should be filed.

Last updated: 6/6/2012

Q. Can parents digitally “sign documentation attesting to his or her understanding of the difference”?

A. Yes, a digital signature can be used to sign this documentation. Signatures need to meet the following criteria in order to be an acceptable digital signature:

  1. It must be clear that the parent understands the differences between ALE and home schooling. The digital method system used to sign the document must sufficiently explain the differences.
  2. There must be a way to identify the person signing the document. While it does not need to be cryptographically secure, there must be a way to show who signed the document.
  3. The date and time of the signature must be recorded.

Examples:

  • An email from the parent, showing that they understand the differences between ALE and home schooling, would suffice.
  • A web-based system that recorded a “signature” (such as a check box or text entry area) could work, presuming it sufficiently explained the differences between ALE and home schooling, and the system user (parent) was logged, along with the date and time.

Last updated: 10/9/2012

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Advertising and marketing

None.

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Work-based learning

Q. Where can I get more information regarding Work-Based Learning?

A. Detailed guidance on implementing a work based learning experience for students can be found in the Worksite Learning Manual. We also recommend that you contact your district’s CTE Director.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

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Verification of student work

None.

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Non-resident enrollment

Q. If a non-resident student enrolled in my program under the "choice" provisions fails to make satisfactory progress for three consecutive months despite our intervention efforts, can I terminate our acceptance of the non-resident student?

A. If a student fails to make satisfactory progress for three consecutive months, you must find a course of study that more appropriately meets the student’s educational needs. This may include terminating the "choice" agreement with the student and referring the student back to the resident district. However, you retain responsibility for that student until the student has actually enrolled in the other district, or has otherwise met mandatory attendance requirements.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. What is meant by "retain responsibility?"

A. The district retains responsibility for the non-resident student identically to its responsibility for resident students. This includes legal, ethical, and reporting responsibilities. An example of a legal responsibility is following truancy procedures specified under 28A.225 RCW. An example of an ethical responsibility is actively working with the student and the student’s parent to find a more appropriate educational placement for the student. An example of a reporting responsibility is to code the student as a "dropout" until you have evidence of actual enrollment in another district, such as a request for student records.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

Q. What is the resident school district’s responsibility if student’s choice transfer is rescinded by the non-resident district?

A. The responsibilities are spelled out in WAC 392-137-230. If the transfer is rescinded before the end date according to conditions listed in the nonresident school district policy, the resident school district reassumes responsibility for the student on the date they are notified of the rescindment.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. What is meant by "…has otherwise met mandatory attendance requirements?"

A. The three main mandatory attendance requirements are:

  1. Enrollment in a public school;
  2. Enrollment in an approved private school; or
  3. Formally receiving home-based instruction.

Last updated: 8/22/2011

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Non-resident drops

None.

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Courses of study

None

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High school credit and graduation requirements

Q. When a student takes an online course from a third-party provider, should the school district accept that credit?

A. School districts must award credit and grades for online high school courses successfully completed by a student that meet the school district's graduation requirements and are provided by an approved online provider. (RCW 28A.250.050)

Last updated: 9/5/2013

Q. Can a student be awarded high school credit for courses taken in middle school?

A. In some cases, the answer is yes. Per RCW.28A.230.090:

4) If requested by the student and his or her family, a student who has completed high school courses before attending high school shall be given high school credit which shall be applied to fulfilling high school graduation requirements if:

(a) The course was taken with high school students, if the academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes, and the student has successfully passed by completing the same course requirements and examinations as the high school students enrolled in the class; or

(b) The academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes and the course would qualify for high school credit, because the course is similar or equivalent to a course offered at a high school in the district as determined by the school district board of directors.

(5) Students who have taken and successfully completed high school courses under the circumstances in subsection (4) of this section shall not be required to take an additional competency examination or perform any other additional assignment to receive credit.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

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Audit costs

None.

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Enrollment reporting procedures



September enrollment

Q. In order to be counted for apportionment in September, a student is required to be enrolled and actually participate in learning activities during the first four days of the new school year. How does this apply to ALE programs?

A. In order to be included in the apportionment reporting for September, a student's approved ALE WSLP must have a start date on or before the first four days of the school year and there must be documented evidence of student participation the ALE courses listed on the WSLP. Evidence of participation within the first four days of the year could include: a direct personal contact log, attendance records indicated either in-person instructional contact or synchronous digital instructional contact, a dated student signature on the WLSP, or evidence that the student has begun work in an online course.

Last updated: 6/12/15

Q. Do ALE students need to show up in person on the count day (first day of school)?

A. No, ALE students don’t have to be physically on-site on the first day of school. But, the ALE program must be able to document evidence of participation within the first four days of school in order to claim the student for September.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

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June enrollment

Q. How is ALE enrollment reported for June and what are the ALE requirements for June?

A. Beginning in the 2011-12 school year, school districts reported their enrollment for the month of June based on their enrollment count on the first school day of that month. Some options exist for programs that end in May or who have seniors that graduate in May. Note: To claim funding in June, all ALE requirements must be met for the weeks school is in session. Direct personal contact will not be required as part of the evaluation conducted in June if the evaluation takes the form of the delivery of final grades to the student. An intervention plan is not required if the evaluation is delivered within the last five school days of the school year.

Last updated: 6/7/2013

Q. Can we count our ALE enrollment for June if our program’s calendar ends in May?

A. If your ALE program’s calendar ends prior to June 1, districts can use the program’s last school day in May as their June count day. If the WSLP ends before the program’s last school day or the student completes the WSLP before the last school day, the ALE student cannot be counted for June unless a new WSLP is created.

Last updated: 6/7/2013

Q. If our school district’s last day of school is in June, but the seniors graduate in May, may I count the ALE graduating seniors for June?

A. Yes, provided that the end date on the WSLP is the last school day in May for the senior class, and the student continues the weekly contact up until that date. School districts would use the senior class’ last school day in May as the June count day for graduating ALE students.

Last updated: 6/7/2013

Q. If a student completes his ALE course in May, does he or she qualify to be counted on the June P-223?

A. A student that has met the requirement of their ALE WSLP in May would not qualify to be counted on the June P-223 unless the program's calendar ends in May or the student graduates in May. Otherwise, the WSLP should be revised to include additional instruction to qualify for June count.

Last updated: 6/7/2013

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How much FTE can be claimed

Q. How is FTE calculated for purposes of enrollment reporting in an ALE program?

A. FTE is calculated based on the estimated weekly hours in the learning plan. Partial FTE is determined by the percentage of hours in the learning plan as compared to a 1.0 FTE student. For students enrolled in state funded full-day kindergarten and grades 1st through 3rd, 1.0 FTE is equal to 20 weekly hours of instruction. For students enrolled in half day kindergarten, the student is reported as 0.5 FTE, which is equal to 10 weekly hours. For students in grades 4th through 12th, 1.0 FTE is equal to 25 weekly hours of instruction. Pursuant to WAC 321-121-011, you would report the FTE to two (2) decimal places.

  1. Example: A 7th grade student's WSLP states the student will spend 15 estimated weekly hours learning. The student would be reported as a 0.60 FTE (15÷25=0.60).
  2. Example: A 1st grade student's WSLP states the student will spend 15 estimated weekly hours learning. The student would be reported as a 0.75 FTE (15÷20=0.75).

Last updated: 8/15/2012

Q. I have a situation where an 8th grade student is attending middle school at .82 FTE and is taking one class through our online school at .18 FTE. I included his headcount in the middle school, not the online school; however, when I input the ALE data for 8th grade I get an Error because my FTE (9.18-total for 8th grade) cannot exceed my headcount (9-total for 8th grade). Does the headcount always go to the ALE school, no matter what their FTE is for ALE?

A. When reporting your ALE enrollment, we are looking for the number of heads and the FTE enrolled in an ALE program. You may share a student between the ALE program and a non-ALE school. But for P-223 columns and for the SAFS ALE reporting, the headcount should be the actual heads enrolled in ALE.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. If a part-time student logs more hours than what is estimated in the WSLP, can the student be reported as a higher FTE?

A. No. You can only report the FTE that is established based on the estimated hours of learning activities specified in the WSLP. If, in the judgment of the certificated teacher supervising the WSLP, the estimated hours do not provide enough time for the student to successfully complete the learning goals and performance objectives of the WSLP, the teacher can modify the plan for subsequent months to more appropriately accommodate the student's educational needs. Of course, this is subject to the maximum FTE of 1.0. Teachers should exercise caution in adjusting student FTE when the student is being served by more than one district school or program, or by another district subject to an inter-district agreement to ensure that the student’s total FTE does not exceed 1.0 FTE.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. Can a student’s enrollment be split between a regular education program and an ALE program? How is enrollment calculated in this situation?

A. Yes, a student can be split between an ALE program and regular education program. However, the student is limited to be claimed by both programs for no more than 1.0 FTE. Calculate the ALE FTE in the usual manner. The student’s total enrollment in both programs should be reported in the Total K-12 District columns on the P223. The student’s ALE enrollment should be restated in the P-223 ALE columns, as well as the SAFS ALE application.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. If a student’s FTE in an ALE program changes mid-month, how is the change accounted for in reporting ALE enrollment?

A. Enrollment counts are based on the students enrolled on a given month's count day. If the student withdraws mid-month, the ALE enrollment count does not change. Likewise, if a student started the month with a 0.60 FTE and increased mid-month to a 1.0 FTE, he would be counted as a 0.60 FTE.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. During the monthly evaluation that was delivered to the student within the 5 day extension period from the end of the month, a student’s average weekly hours are revised in the WSLP. Can the revised FTE be claimed in the current month’s reporting? For example, if a student's WSLP showed an estimate of 20 hours per week in October, and then the WSLP is modified to move the student to 25 weekly hours during the “October” evaluation that was held on November 5, can the student be claimed as a 1.0 FTE in November?

A. No. The rules state that FTE is based on the estimated hours on the WSLP on the monthly count date. In this example, the WSLP showed 20 hours of estimated learning activities on the November count day, so 0.8 FTE could be claimed for November. The 5 day extension period was provided to fulfill the monthly evaluation requirement. Schools may want to adjust the day they deliver the results of the evaluation if they expect there may be a change to the WSLP.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

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When enrollment can be claimed

Q: If a student enrolls in an ALE program for a new term, can they be claimed for ALE funding?

A. It depends. If the student was not counted by another school on that month’s count day, enrolls in the ALE program at the beginning of a new term, and participates sometime within the first four days of the new term, their enrollment can be claimed on the P223 and can generate state funding. WAC 392-121-106(4) defines an enrolled student as one “who participated on a school day during the first four school days of the current school term (semester or quarter), or on a school day during the current school year on or prior to the date being counted, in a course of study offered by the school district as defined in WAC 392-121-107.”

However, if the student was claimed by another school district on that month’s count day, his enrollment in an ALE program for their new term could not be claimed for that month.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. Can a Skills Center use ALE funding for Summer School Program?

A. You can claim ALE funding for Skills Center Summer School providing that the program offered is a CTE approved summer school offering, the student has not exceeded the 1.6 AAFTE prior to claiming the funding and that you follow the ALE rules. SC programs claiming ALE FTE are not eligible for enhanced funding and will be reimbursed at the Running Start rate.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. If the district isn’t claiming a student using ALE funding during the summer, do the ALE requirements need to be followed?

A. If you are not claiming ALE funding in the summer, you don't need to meet the ALE requirements. If you are claiming ALE funding for summer school, then you need to meet the ALE requirements. Confirm that the student has not exceed the 1.0 AAFTE prior to claiming ALE funding for summer school enrollment.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. If the monthly evaluation did not occur sometime in the previous month, can the student’s enrollment be claimed on the next monthly count day?

A. It would depend. If the evaluation is not completed within five school days of the last day of month, the student may not be claimed for state funding on the next monthly count day. For example, the student was claimed for the month of October and did not receive a monthly evaluation anytime in October, he cannot be claimed for November unless the monthly evaluation occurred in the first five school days of November.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. The WSLP was in place on October 1, and the ALE enrollment was included in the Total K-12 District Enrollment on the October P-223. The monthly evaluation showed unsatisfactory progress and intervention plan was not in place within five school days. May I claim funding for the student in October?

A. No. If the intervention plan was not in place within five schools days after the monthly evaluation, the student cannot be claimed for funding on the next monthly count day. For example, if the monthly evaluation occurred on October 15th and it showed unsatisfactory progress, an intervention plan must be developed and in place within five school days in order for the student to be claimed on the November P223.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. If a student does not make contact for 20 consecutive school days prior to the monthly count day, can they be claimed for state funding and must they be withdrawn from ALE program?

A. In section 7b of the rules, “The enrollment count must exclude students meeting the definition of enrollment exclusions in WAC 392-121-108, or students who have not had direct personal contact with a certificated teacher for twenty consecutive school days.” You do not necessarily need to withdraw the student, but you can’t claim funding for any student who has not had contact with a teacher for more than 20 consecutive school days prior to the monthly count day.

There is an exception provided for the 20 consecutive school day rule. WAC 392-121-108(1)(a) states the following: “If there is a written agreement between the appropriate school official and a student’s parent or guardian pursuant to RCW 28A.225.010 that the student’s temporary absence is not deemed to cause a serious adverse effect upon the student’s educational progress, the absent student may be counted as an enrolled student for up to two monthly enrollment count days as specified in WAC 392-121-122.” When such an agreement is established prior to a student’s absent, the student can be claimed for two months provided that they return to school prior to the end of the school year. For example, an agreement between the school and the parent is in place on December 15th, the student can be claimed for state funding on the January and February P223s but must return to school prior to the end of the school year. If the student does not return, the enrollment claimed for January and February must be removed.

You should, however, be thinking about your truancy procedures and the Becca Bill. OSPI guidance on ALE student truancy can be found in this memo posted on November 5, 2013.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. I have a student who will be traveling out of state for a number of months. Can they continue to be enrolled in the ALE program and can the district continue to claim funding for the student?

A. An enrolled student must be a resident of Washington (WAC 392-121-106). Residency is defined as the district where a student is expected to live for 20 consecutive school days (WAC 392-137-115). Students who are absent for 20 consecutive school days may not be counted as an enrolled student, WAC 392-121-108.

WAC 392-121-108(1)(a) provides that when there is an agreement in place with the parents and the school that the student will continue his educational progress while temporarily absent, the student can be claimed for state funding for two months. If such an arrangement is in place, the student could be claimed for state funding for two months only but must return to Washington state prior to the end of the school year.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. Can an ALE student’s summer enrollment be claimed for state funding?

A. If a student has not been counted by a public school as a 1.0 FTE, been enrolled full-time in a private school, or doesn’t have an intent to home school on file for ten months of the standard school year (September through June), he would not have exceed the 1.0 AAFTE. As such, he could be eligible for summer school enrollment. Refer to the Enrollment Handbook and the P223S for further instructions on calculating a student’s standard school year AAFTE and how to report a student’s summer enrollment.

Last updated: 6/30/2014

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Other enrollment reporting questions

Q. Do students need to keep monthly logs of learning activities/hours?

A. For purposes of enrollment reporting, no. However, some school districts will require documentation of learning activities/hours for purposes of issuing course credit. This is entirely a local school board policy issue, within the context of State Board of Education regulations regarding courses of study and equivalencies and high school graduation requirements.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. Can a district charge Washington state students tuition for an ALE course or program?

A. School districts are prohibited from charging tuition for student time that is claimed for state basic education funding. The district may charge tuition and fees to full-time students who choose to enroll in district credit retrieval or acceleration courses, or other optional enrichment courses and whose tuition-paid enrollment will not be claimed for state funding. For online courses not being claimed for state funding, any costs to students should be outlined in district policy.

Last updated: 6/12/2015

Q. Do Running Start students get reported?

A. Districts should not be reporting their students’ Running Start enrollment on either the ALE monthly report or the SAFS ALE Year End report. Running Start enrollment is claimed by the college and is based on enrolled credits. ALE is any enrolled class whose FTE is based on time away from a classroom and the estimated hours in a WSLP. ALE programs do not include their Running Start monthly enrollment on the SAFS ALE application or year-end report.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

Q. A student is enrolled in ALE, Running Start, and Work Based Learning courses of study. How are these addressed in the WSLP and enrollment counting?

A. The rules that govern Running Start and Work Based Learning are separate and distinct from the rules governing ALE. Thus, Running Start credits and Work Based Learning hours, and the resulting FTE, should be maintained and reported separately from ALE hours and FTE.

While the WSLP may address all three components of a student's education (in an effort to portray the full scope of a student's educational program), only ALE hours should be included in the "estimate of the average number of hours per week that the student will engage in learning activities to meet the requirements of the student learning plan" referenced in WAC 392-121-182 (4)(b) and subsequently used to calculate ALE FTE.

There are limitations on the amount of FTE a student can be counted for by a district (WAC 392-121-136). The Running Start and Skills Center enrollment, as well as enrollment at other districts, should be considered when developing the WSLP to ensure that these limitations are not exceeded.

Last updated: 8/12/2011

Q. When a student submits a Collection of Evidence (COE) and has no other graduation requirements or classes to complete, what is the student’s status while we wait for COE results?

A. The school district could retain the student in the student information system and report a 0 FTE on the monthly apportionment until the results of COE are known. Also, an unenrolled student may submit a COE.

Last updated: 6/1/2015

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Assessment requirements

Q. The rules require part-time students to be assessed annually. Does the assessment have to be for all subjects?

A. Although the rules require part-time students to be assessed annually, the rules do not specify how this assessment must occur. Ideally, the assessment will focus on the subject areas addressed in the student's learning plan. For part-time students who are also receiving home-based instruction, the ALE program and the student's parent should consider collaborating to jointly meet both the ALE annual assessment requirement and the home-based instruction annual assessment requirement.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

Q. What happens if a full-time ALE student opts to not take the state-required assessment (MSP or HSPE)?

A. If a full-time ALE student chooses to opt out of the state assessment, programs should follow established state and district procedures to accommodate public school parents and students who choose this option. (Typically, parents sign a letter that is kept on file.) In nearly all cases, the student will be included in the district’s accountability measures, with a "0" score on the relevant assessments.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

Q. At the age levels where there is no state or district required assessments, what is required for ALE students who must be assessed annually?

A. Annual assessments need not be formal state or district standards-based assessments, or norm-referenced tests. Observational assessment from a teacher, portfolio assessment, running records, and other means may all be forms of acceptable annual assessments.

Last updated: 7/28/2011

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Reporting requirements



Q. How do I calculate the FTE of a contracted or part-time teacher?

A. Districts commonly contract for online courses that include an online teacher, or for other part-time teachers where the contract is structured by the course rather than by the teacher’s FTE. There are two situations where a calculation of the teacher’s FTE is necessary: a) to determine if the teacher needs to be reported on the S-275 (see WAC 392-121-188(13)) and b) for reporting on the yearly SAFS ALE report.

To determine FTE for an individual teacher:

  1. Add up the estimated weekly hours on all students’ WSLPs for all the courses where the teacher is identified.
  2. Divide the total from #1 by 750. (750 represents a typical classroom size of 30 students x 5 classes/hours per day, x 5 days per week.)
  3. The result is that individual teacher’s FTE within your district.

If you have multiple part-time teachers, repeat this calculation for each teacher, then add the results together to determine the total FTE for your district.

Last updated: 8/19/2013

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Documentation and record retention requirements



Q. How long does the documentation of contact need to be held?

A. Districts should retain documentation in accordance with their established records retention schedules. The Washington Secretary of State’s office has a number of resources that districts can use when developing records retention schedules.

Last updated: 9/16/2011

Q. In the evidence of weekly contact what is meant by “documentation to support the subject of the communication”?

A. The documentation required will depend on the method of contact used. The documentation should include a brief summary of the topics discussed during the direct personal contact. The summary should be unique to this conversation, and not generic. For example, “discussed ALE coursework” would not be an adequate level of specificity, whereas “assisted student in understanding fractions in unit 5” would provide enough detail to determine whether the content of the discussion was related to their WSLP. Summaries need not be longer than one or two sentences.

In the case of email, chat, or other electronic methods, the actual email or chat transcript could be retained as documentation in lieu of a summary.

Last updated: 8/16/2012

Q. For purposes of taking attendance in in-person or synchronous digital instructional contact time, should passing time be included?

A. Passing time may be included as per the definition in WAC 392-121-122 that states “each hour counted shall contain at least 50 minutes of instruction or supervised study provided by appropriate instructional staff.”

Last updated: 8/16/2012

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