Hawaii uses the following criteria to identify a student at risk: ten or more unauthorized absences; two or more courses failed; one or more grade levels behind; three or more disciplinary referrals; adjudicated in the juvenile justice system; and pregnant or parenting teen. Students who meet four or more of those criteria are identified as severely at risk and referred to an alternative learning center, while students who meet two to three criteria are referred to an alternative program based in their regular classroom. The Department of Education gives clear guidance on the operation and management of these programs.

Hawaii also stands out for allowing schools to use money provided through its weighted student funding formula, based on student need, to develop and implement alternative programs.

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