Alternative Education


Alternative education is a program operated as a subdivision of the regular K-12 program. It is designed for students who can be better served in an alternative delivery system. Students served include those who have specific needs and are often at risk of not graduating. Alternative education programs seek to provide added flexibility and alternative instructional models. These often include expanded services from the traditional setting such as online learning, institutional programs, counseling, childcare, and transportation in an effort to help students overcome barriers and meet the goals of the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Alternative education pupils are funded under the K-12 foundation rate.

Alternative Education is a separate, non-traditional program within a K-12 public school district or a public school academy established to provide personalized educational services for students who:

  • are at risk of not graduating with their class; and/or
  • have individual needs not being met in a traditional setting.

Click here to join the MDE Alternative Education Listserv


Alternative Education/Innovative Programs Reduction of Hours and/or Days Waivers

General Information

The State School Aid Act, Section 101(9) [MCL 388.1701], permits the State Superintendent to waive the minimum number of hours and days of pupil instruction for alternative education programs or other innovative programs approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). This waiver can only be granted for alternative education or innovative programs and is not intended for individual students.

The State Superintendent considers applications for waivers of hours for programs that will operate for less than the required 1,098 hours and/or less than the required 180 days on a yearly basis. Before submitting the waiver to operate less than the required 1,098 hours of instruction or less than the required 180 days of instruction, consider very carefully the amount of instruction time needed to deliver the Michigan Merit Curriculum. The waiver application also allows a district to apply for a 50 percent attendance waiver, as indicated in Section 101(3)(h).

2019-20 Application Information (Application Due: August 30, 2019)

See the 2019-20 Alternative Education/Innovative Programs application.  For best results during application review by MDE, this rubric should be used to guide your application responses.

Please be advised that by completing this application and participating in the Waiver of Minimum Number of Hours and Days of Pupil Instruction for Alternative Education or other innovative programs, you agree to comply with the reporting requirements established by the MDE.

2018-19 Reporting Information (Report Due: July 31, 2019)

The purpose of this report is to gather information on programs that utilized the Alternative Education and Innovative Programs (Hours and Days) Waivers. These waivers were approved on a site-by-site basis. Therefore, if a district operated multiple sites under the waiver for 2018-2019, a report must be completed for each site.  Click here for the year-end report.


Additional Resources

Section 388.1701 Michigan Law

Information on Teacher of Record for Online or Computer-based Instruction

Alternative Education: Classroom Teacher Placements

Education Development Plan (EDP) Fundamentals

Section 21f Expanded Virtual Learning for Course Providers

Section 21f allows districts, intermediate districts, community colleges, and the Michigan Virtual University (MVU) the opportunity to publish courses in a statewide catalog of virtual courses for consumption by pupils located throughout Michigan. Follow the link for further information and requirements.

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