Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) Grades K-8
SW Alternative Learning Experience (SW ALE) is a public school alternative educational program operated by the South Whidbey School District. The intent of the SW ALE is to provide a creative, collaborative and flexible educational model that supports a diversity of students through student-centered learning, family partnerships, community connection, and social and emotional development within a public school framework.
The SW ALE was created to support students who benefit from an alternative educational option through the South Whidbey School District (SWSD). It is a strong match for families who want to and have the capacity to play an active role in their student’s education by facilitating student learning and working collaboratively with their student’s certificated mentor teacher to meet learning goals and fulfill state requirements.
Brief History of South Whidbey ALE
The ALE grew out of a COVID-time collaboration with families and community partners. During the 2020-2021 School Year, a number of K-4 families requested alternatives to the online/Zoom focused educational option provided by the district. In collaboration with administration, instructional staff and families, we developed the “South Whidbey and Parent Partnership” (SWAP) program, a precursor to the SW ALE. This program was loosely based on the state’s Alternative Learning Experience guidelines. It matched mentor teachers with students and their families. Mentor teachers then worked in partnership with families to support student learning and fulfill WA State basic education requirements. SWAP proved to be a successful model, and provided the impetus to launch an official ALE program during the 2021-2022 school year and provide educational choices to families. The SW ALE was launched in September 2021.
Definition of an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE)
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, ALE are courses or grade-level coursework where some or all of the instruction for the course takes place independent from the regular classroom or school setting.
SW ALE is a public school alternative educational program operated by the South Whidbey School District. The intent of the SW ALE is to provide a creative, collaborative and flexible educational model that supports a diversity of students through student-centered learning, family partnerships, community connection, and social and emotional development within a public school framework.
We understand that there is no one model of education that works for all students. SW ALE works in partnership with families to meet the unique needs of their ALE students. This partnership is facilitated through a reciprocal relationship between the certificated teacher, the student and the family.
Mentor teachers serve as advisors and mentors to the students and their parents or guardians, supporting student learning and growth. Parents or guardians must be able to facilitate a portion of their student’s learning, and must commit to fulfilling program requirements, including facilitating weekly contact between their student and their student’s mentor teacher, and providing work samples and monthly updates on student learning and progress in parent-facilitated and offsite learning.
The foundation of student learning at SW ALE is the Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP). The WSLP is developed by the student’s certificated mentor teacher in collaboration with the student and/or the student’s parent or guardian. The WSLP is supervised by the certificated mentor teacher, who assesses progress monthly with input from parents or guardians. While each WSLP sets forth a unique course of study designed to meet the particular student’s needs, WSLPs must do so within the framework of Washington State Learning Standards. Students enrolled in the SW ALE are subject to the rules and regulations governing public school students including accountability in meeting state learning goals, minimum hours of instruction and annual assessment.
SW ALE is governed by the Washington State Alternative Learning Law, WAC 392-121-182. The following basic ALE requirements form the essential part of all ALE students’ educational programs.
- A Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP)
- Two-Way Weekly Contact Between the Student and Their Mentor Teacher
- Monthly Progress Reviews Completed by Mentor Teacher
- An Annual Assessment
The SW ALE provides opportunities for students to take courses or grade-level coursework in which some or all of the student’s instruction takes place outside of the regular classroom or school setting. Student coursework, whether onsite or offsite, is included in the student’s WSLP.
While the SW ALE does offer an array of onsite classes, the ALE does not provide a full-time onsite educational option. It is important to know that some or all of your ALE student’s learning will happen offsite. And that you, the parent or guardian, will be responsible for facilitating that learning.
The program is divided into three grade bands, with courses offered according to these grade bands: 1st and 2nd; 3rd through 5th; and 6th through 8th. In consultation with the student’s mentor teacher, students and their families may choose to enroll in courses based on their student’s educational needs and on the availability of the courses.
Students and their families may opt to enroll their students in some or all of the onsite instruction offered and available to the student at their grade level, subject to course availability. Students and their families also may opt for all instruction to take place offsite, facilitated by parents or guardians.
The relationship between the student, family and teacher is reciprocal in nature, and requires families to commit to partnering in their student’s education. Mentor teachers serve as advisors and mentors to the students and their parents or guardians, supporting student learning and growth. Parents or guardians must be able to facilitate a portion of their student’s learning, and must commit to fulfilling program requirements, including facilitating weekly contact between their student and their student’s mentor teacher, and providing work samples and monthly updates on student learning and progress in parent-facilitated courses of study that occur offsite.
The SW ALE is not homeschooling. While certain aspects of the experience may look or feel similar to homeschooling, an ALE is a form of public school education, and thus ALE students are subject to the rules and regulations governing public school.
Review our Statement of Understanding, in accordance with WAC 392-121-182(6)(j), for more information about the difference between home-based instruction (homeschooling), private school and alternative learning experience (ALE). Students are considered either one or the other.
How to Enroll
Families who are interested in learning more about the program and how to register can contact Principal Susie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org.