2255 Policy – Alternative Learning Experience Programs

Bellingham Public Schools authorizes the creation of alternative learning experience (ALE) programs and courses, as defined in the procedure that accompanies this policy.


The district will make available to students enrolled in ALE programs educational opportunities designed to meet their individual needs. The district will comply with all program requirements necessary to count an ALE as a course of study and ensure state funding for ALE students.
ALE programs may include the following types of courses as defined in RCW 28A.232.010:

A. Online courses (See policy 2024, Online Learning).

B. Remote courses; and

C. Site-based courses.


The board will adopt and annually review this written policy authorizing ALE programs at Bellingham Public Schools. The following district official(s) or their designees shall be responsible for overseeing the district’s ALE programs:

  • Deputy Superintendent
  • Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning
  • Executive Director of Educational Technology


The district establishes the following alternative program(s) provided onsite, remote, or online as defined in WAC 392-550-020.

  • Bellingham Virtual Learning
  • Bellingham Family Partnership Program


Reporting Requirements

A. Annual report to the board of directors
The school district officials noted above shall submit a report annually to the board a report on ALE programs at Bellingham Public Schools. The report may be either a stand-alone submission or included as a component of another board report (ENDS reporting, etc.). This annual report will include at least the following:

    1. Documentation of ALE student headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment claimed for basic education funding.
    2. Identification of the overall ratio of certificated instructional staff to full-time equivalent students enrolled in each ALE course, the number of certificated staff in each ALE course.
    3. A description of how the program supports the district’s overall goals and objectives for student academic achievement; and


B. Monthly report to the superintendent of public instruction
The district must report monthly to the superintendent of public instruction:

    1. Accurate monthly headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment for students enrolled in alternative learning experiences who are eligible to be claimed; and
    2. Information about the resident and serving districts of such students.

C. Regular submissions to CEDARS

The district must report all required information to the office of superintendent of public instruction’s Comprehensive Education Data and Research System (CEDARS) under RCW 28A.300.500, including designating alternative learning experience courses as such when reporting course information.

D. Annual report to the superintendent of public instruction
The district must submit an annual report to the superintendent of public instruction detailing the costs and purposes of any expenditures made to purchase or contract for instructional or co-curricular experiences and services that are included in an ALE written student learning plan, along with the substantially similar experiences or services made available to students enrolled in the district’s regular instructional program. The report must include the number of certificated instructional staff full-time equivalent assigned to each alternative learning experience program and the enrollment of students (separately identified) where ALE instruction is provided entirely under contract pursuant to RCW 28A.150.305 and WAC 392-121-188.

Assessment Requirements:
All students enrolled in alternative learning experience programs, courses or coursework must be assessed at least annually, using, for full-time students, the state assessment for the student’s grade level and using any other annual assessments required by the district.
Part-time students whose ALE enrollment is claimed as greater than 0.8 FTE in any one month through the January count date must be included by the district in any required state or federal accountability reporting for that school year. However, part-time students who are either receiving home-based instruction under Chapter 28A.200, RCW or who are enrolled in an approved private school under Chapter 28A.195, RCW are not required to participate in the assessments required under Chapter 28A.655, RCW.
Students enrolled in nonresident district alternative learning experience programs, courses or coursework who are unable to participate in required annual state assessments at the nonresident district must have the opportunity to participate in such required annual state assessments at the district of physical residence, subject to that district’s planned testing schedule. It is the responsibility of the nonresident enrolling district to establish a written agreement with the district of physical residence that facilitates all necessary coordination between the districts and with the student and, where appropriate, the student’s parent/guardian to fulfill this requirement. Such coordination may include:

  • arranging for appropriate assessment materials;
  • notifying the student of assessment administration schedules;
  • arranging for the forwarding of completed assessment materials to the enrolling district for submission for scoring and reporting; and
  • arranging for any allowable testing accommodations, and other steps as may be necessary.

The agreement may include rates and terms for payment of reasonable fees by the enrolling district to the district of physical residence to cover costs associated with planning for and administering the assessments to students not enrolled in the district of physical residence. Assessment results for students assessed according to these provisions must be included in the enrolling district’s accountability measurements, and not in the district of physical residence’s accountability measurements.


Valid Justification for Missed Contact

Valid justifications why a student may miss the weekly contact requirements of ALE for the purpose of truancy include those outlined in Excused Absences WAC 392-401-020 and in policy 3122


Students who drop out of ALE programs
The school district offering or contracting to offer an alternative learning experience course to a nonresident student must inform the resident school district should an enrolled student un-enroll from the ALE program or is otherwise no longer enrolled.
The superintendent is directed to develop procedures consistent with WAC chapter 392-550 to govern the administration of the district’s ALE programs and courses.

Approved By: Greg Baker, Superintendent and Jennifer I. Mason, School Board President
Adopted/Previous Revisions: 03/19/15
Adopted/Revised: 1/10/18; 10/16/19; 8/20
Updated: 09/15/2021
Superintendent or Board Approved: Board Approved
Legal References: Content
RCW 28A.150.305 Alternative educational service providers — Student eligibility
RCW 28A.225 Compulsory school attendance and admission
RCW 28A.232.010 Alternative learning experience courses — Generally — Rules — Reports
RCW 28A.250.050 Student access to online courses and online learning programs — Policies and procedures — Course credit — Dissemination of information — Development of local or regional online learning programs.
Laws of 2018, Ch. 56 Alternative Learning Experience Course – Definitions
WAC 392-121-107 Definition-Course of study
WAC 392-121-182 Alternative learning experience requirements
WAC 392-121-188 Instruction provided under contract
WAC 392-137-230 Length of acceptance
WAC 392-550 – Alternative learning experience requirements

Management Resources: Content
Policy News, August 2020
Policy News, May 2018
Policy News, April 2017
Policy News, February 2014
Policy News, October 2012
Policy News, October 2011