OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION.
This bill defines the term “alternative education” as a school or program maintained and operated by a local or regional board of education offered to students in a nontraditional setting that addresses their social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs. It replaces references to “alternative programs,” “alternative school programs,” and “alternative high school” in statute that are currently undefined.
The bill also allows local and regional boards of education to provide alternative education to students using space in an existing school or by establishing a new school specifically for alternative education.
It also makes the following changes:
1. assigns several new duties to local and regional boards of education, the State Department of Education (SDE), and the State Board of Education (SBE) relating to alternative education and
2. allows two or more boards of education to form cooperative arrangements to provide alternative education.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015
BOARD OF EDUCATION DUTIES
If a board of education chooses to provide alternative education, it must comply with state laws on the number and length of school days in an academic year and all other federal and state laws governing public schools.
Additionally, the bill requires boards of education to:
1. post on their website information about alternative education they may offer, including purpose, location, contact information, staff directory, and enrollment criteria;
2. give all children in the school district who receive alternative education as nearly equal advantages as may be practicable compared with other children in the district; and
3. annually submit a strategic school profile report (see BACKGROUND) for each alternative education school or program under its jurisdiction.
The bill requires SDE to perform the following duties:
1. develop guidelines for alternative education, including (a) a description of purpose and expectations, (b) eligibility criteria, and (c) entrance and exit criteria;
2. assign each alternative education school or program an identification code and organization code for the collection, tracking, and monitoring of alternative education in the public school information system (PSIS) (see BACKGROUND); and
3. perform an operations and instructional audit for any school selected to participate in the commissioner's network (see BACKGROUND) that inventories, among other things, any alternative education that the school may offer to students.
Under the bill, SBE must assess alternative education and alternative education opportunities as part of its statewide assessment of disparities among local and regional school districts. By law, this assessment is required prior to SBE developing a five-year implementation plan with appropriate goals and strategies to (1) achieve resource equity and equality of opportunity; (2) increase student achievement; (3) reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation; (4) improve effective instruction; and (5) encourage greater parental and community involvement in all public schools of the state.
Strategic School Profile Reports
These reports contain school and district information about student needs, school resources, student and school performance, and provision of special education services. By law, local and regional boards of education are responsible for creating and submitting these reports to the education commissioner (CGS § 10-220).
PSIS is a statewide, standardized electronic data collection and reporting system that tracks and reports data relating to student, teacher, school, and district performance growth. This data is available to local and regional boards of education for use in evaluating educational performance and growth of teachers and students enrolled in Connecticut public schools (CGS § 10-10a).
The commissioner's network is a group of up to 25 schools selected by the education commissioner for three to five years of intensive state assistance, supervision, and intervention (CGS § 10-223h).