Instructional Hours and Days for Private Schools
Current Rulemaking Activity:
- Rules regarding emergency waiver authority and private schools. In July, the Board adopted rules to allow flexibility for private schools to open online in the fall if needed.
- Rules regarding instructional hours and days. The Board adopted rules to ensure that distance learning time counts toward the total instructional hours and days required under the program of basic education.
Due to school closures for COVID-19, many private schools are concerned that they will not be able to meet the current law that states that the minimum school year for instructional purposes for private schools is at least a school-wide annual average of 1,000 instructional hours for students enrolled in grades 1-12 or 180 school days. Meeting either the hours requirement or the days requirement is acceptable. The State Board of Education has adopted rules that allow private schools emergency waiver authority for credit unit graduation requirements and has removed the remaining time requirements for the school year as measured by either hours or days. The emergency rules also indicate that the Board will allow private schools to operate online-only education for up to half of the 2020-2021 school year if the community deems it necessary for safety.
There is no established policy on how private online education towards hours or days is counted. Because state law is silent on the issue, it is up to the local schools to determine how they will calculate hours or days for online private education. There is no statewide definition of a high school credit based on time. In public schools, schools should assure that learning standards are being met for a credit to be offered. Private schools are not prescribed to the Washington State Learning Standards.