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Alternative Schools & Programs of Choice Summary

Information on program purpose, services, outcomes, funding, students served, and results.

Alternative Schools of Choice Legislation

State law (California Education Code [EC] sections 58500 through 58512) provides that school districts may establish and maintain alternative schools and programs of choice. These EC sections provide a definition of alternative schools of choice, declare the purposes of alternative schools of choice, and stipulate the requirements that alternative schools of choice must meet. Among these requirements are:

The premise behind alternative schools of choice is that “one size doesn’t fit all.” In other words, not all students will thrive or reach their full potential in the traditional comprehensive school. Alternative schools and programs of choice can offer a different structure, learning philosophy, or academic emphasis to accommodate different student needs, interests, and learning styles. The effective use of such instructional strategies as independent study, community-based education, focused or thematic education, and flexible scheduling increases attendance and improves performance while fostering student engagement.

Districts may apply to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) for waivers of sections of the EC on behalf of alternative schools of choice. A goal of alternative schools and programs of choice is that they be “operated in a manner to maximize the opportunity for improvement of the general school curriculum by innovative methods and ideas.” (EC Section 58507) The SSPI may grant waivers of specific provisions of state law, on request, to provide alternative schools and programs of choice the flexibility to innovate.

Goals for Alternative Schools and Programs of Choice

The goals of alternative schools and programs of choice, as outlined in EC Section 58500, are the following:


General Fund apportionment based on average daily attendance.

Questions: Dan Sackheim | | 916-445-5595 
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