Alternative School Status Application Page

The application for alternative school status for FY21 (2020-2021 school year) will open on March 9th. All schools, including those that wish to continue their alternative status from FY20 into FY21 must recertify by filling out and submitting the application materials online no later than 5pm on May 29, 2020. All schools that wish to be considered for alternative school status in FY21 must provide all requested information. Schools operating a Dropout Recovery Program (DRP) must apply for alternative school status. Due to the effort/resources required for ADE to process applications, no applications will be accepted after 5pm on May 29. Notification of alternative school status to schools is tentatively scheduled for late June.

March 9, 2020: Application window opens for FY21

May 29, 2020: Application window closes for FY21

End of June (tentative): Schools notified of alternative school status

Alternative schools are defined as schools that meet the Arizona State Board of Education approved definition (updated 02/28/2014) as schools whose sole and clearly-stated mission is to serve specific populations of at-risk students.

Arizona statute supports 6th through 12th grade alternative school programs for accountability purposes. It is the intent of the Arizona Department of Education to be in alignment with this statute (Section C of 15-796).


  1. A district school has adopted a mission statement that clearly identifies its purpose is to serve a specific student population that will benefit from an alternative school setting or a charter school that expressly states in their charter that its purpose is to serve a specific student population that will benefit from an alternative school setting.
  2. The educational program and related student support services of the school must align with the mission and charter (if applicable) of the school.
  3. Schools offering secondary instruction for academic credit used to fulfill the Arizona State Board of Education graduation requirements (in part or in full) must offer a high school diploma of graduation.
  4. The school will receive current year state assessment scores for their students.
  5. The school must intend to serve students in one or more of the following categories that reflect an alternative school setting necessary for these students:
  • Students who have a documented history of disruptive behavior issues.
  • Students who have dropped out of school and are now returning.
  • Students in poor academic standing as demonstrated by being at least one year behind on grade level performance or academic credits.
  • Students who are primary caregivers or are financially responsible for dependents and, therefore, may require a flexible school schedule.
  • Students who are adjudicated.
  • Students who are wards of the state and are in need of an alternative school setting

6. All new and converted schools shall be audited for student enrollment verification prior to confirmation of alternative status. All other alternative schools will be subject to an audit of enrollment counts as deemed necessary by the Arizona Department of Education and/or the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.


  • Existing alternative schools must recertify each fiscal year.
  • Schools must fill out the online application and upload their mission statement. The mission statement that is uploaded must be the one that is in effect on October 1, 2019.
  • Schools must include total enrollment of students as of October 1, 2019, and the number of students by category based on their initial enrollment. (List a student in one category only for online application).
  • Arizona State Charter Board will review the list of charter school applicants as a verification point. Other alternative school sponsors will be contacted for verification if there is any abnormality or additional clarification needed regarding their applicants.

Alternative status is granted by application to the Arizona Department of Education and applies to the state accountability system.

Districts and charter holders (LEAs) must apply for alternative school status for their schools by filling out and submitting the application below. Please see the guidance document below to further clarify and for examples of how a school might verify student enrollment in any one category.

Fiscal Year 2021 Alternative School Status Annual Application Guidance

Approved list of applications for 2019-2020 Alternative School Status can be found here.

After 12 weeks of availability, the window to apply or recertify alternative school status for the 2020-2021 school year closed on May 29th. In order to process current applications for new or recertified alternative status, no additional applications for new or continuing alternative status will be accepted at this time. ADE will release a finalized list of all schools approved for FY21 alternative status in June (tentatively). Schools with FY21 approved alternative status will receive FY21 accountability determinations based on methodology specific to alternative schools. Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions regarding your FY21 alternative school status.