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Opportunity Education Program Summary

Information on program purpose, services, outcomes, funding, students served, and results for the Opportunity Education Program.


Opportunity Education schools, classes, and programs provide additional support for students who are habitually truant from instruction, irregular in attendance, insubordinate, disorderly while in attendance, or unsuccessful academically. They are operated either by school districts or county offices of education. However, the authority for a school district to establish a new opportunity education school, class, or program was repealed effective January 1, 2006.


Opportunity Education schools, classes, and programs provide a supportive environment with specialized curriculum, instruction, guidance and counseling, psychological services, and tutorial assistance to help students overcome barriers to learning. Opportunity Education should not be viewed as a holding place for resistant learners, but as an intervention to ensure student success. It provides comprehensive academic programs that facilitate positive self-esteem, confidence, and personal growth with the goal of helping students return to traditional classes and programs. The laws specific to Opportunity Education are in California Education Code sections 46180 and 48640 et seq.


The desired outcome is fully engaged students who are learning in the manner best suited to their needs. This will also result in:

  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Decreasing the dropout rate
  • Increasing the graduation rate

Students Served

Students enrolled in grades one through twelve may be assigned to the Opportunity Education environment for all or part of the school day. For identification and referral purposes, students may already exhibit attendance or behavior problems or they may be at risk of exhibiting behavior problems, such as irregular attendance, insubordination, and/or disorderly conduct while attending school. The intent of the identification and referral process is to provide assistance that will help students succeed in traditional classes or enable them to return to traditional classes as soon as possible.


The use of funds for this program is now at the discretion of the administration in each school district as part of the Local Control Funding Formula.


Although the California Department of Education (CDE) does not have specific reports on the efficacy of opportunity education programs, a research paper and compendium of resources entitled Zero Dropouts for California is available. This paper contains information regarding the dropout crisis; recommendations for the State, counties, districts, and the CDE; and an extensive bibliography of resources.

Questions: Dan Sackheim | | 916-445-5595 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 01, 2022