ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

MINNESOTA

Minnesota is one of two states that have met five of the seven model policy elements.

Its alternative programs are designed for students who are at risk of educational failure. This can include students who are: scoring substantially lower on achievement tests; at least one year behind in credits for graduation; pregnant or parenting; chemically dependent; expelled; a victim of abuse; experiencing mental health problems; homeless; speaking English as a second language; withdrawn from school or chronically truant; or being treated in a hospital for chronic illness.

Minnesota makes clear that alternative education is characterized by smaller class sizes, hands-on and experiential approaches, resources to assist with social and emotional needs, and independent study options.

At the same time, the state fosters innovation by supporting a network of over 150 alternative learning centers and programs that have the autonomy to determine their own programming structure and delivery method.

Minnesota encourages collaboration among alternative programs and social service and county agencies. Students can generate up to 1.2 times the regular amount of funding.

Taken together, Minnesota's policies provide one of the nation's best examples of an alternative education system set up to move off-track students toward the goal of high school diplomas and postsecondary credentials.

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