Dear District Administrators and CESA Administrators,
The state administrative rule, which governs school district standards (PI 8) was modified a few years ago to recognize new and emerging methods of delivering instructional programming.
PI 8 now recognizes innovative instructional design. This is defined as an instructional program aligned to the school district standards and used to improve student achievement through instruction offered outside of the normal school day, virtually, or in an alternative setting. The rule was further modified so that hours may also include the hours of instructional programming offered through innovative instructional designs that apply to the entire school or grade level.
Implementing an innovative instructional design requires careful planning. In planning for virtual instruction, several factors must be considered including: how to accommodate students without internet access or compatible devices, how to serve special education students and English Learners, and how students account for learning in a virtual environment, to name a few. School districts need to ensure they are meeting all other applicable federal and state laws related to student programming that is offered in this manner.
The department does not approve or disapprove innovative instructional designs implemented by school districts including virtual instruction programs meant to count as instructional time when a school building is closed due to inclement weather. We recommend districts consider consulting with their attorney before developing such a program to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and address any practical matters that may arise. We put together a resource on virtual learning as an instructional design model for public school districts in Wisconsin who are utilizing this instructional option. This can be accessed at https://dpi.wi.gov/cal/virtual-learning-time.