What is an Alternative Education Center?

The Alternative Education Center (AEC) is a state-approved alternative program. The Minnesota Department of Education alternative education mission is to provide viable educational options for students who are experiencing difficulty in the traditional system.

Alternative Educational Programs provide year-round education toward a high school diploma for students 16 years of age through adults on a full or part-time basis. Based upon initial assessment, students develop with an instructor a learning plan which best fits their course needs and learning styles.

Who can use the AEC?

Anyone who meets the enrollment criteria and wishes to work on their high school diploma when a traditional setting is not appropriate may enroll at the AEC. We have high school students who attend classes at the AEC to make up credits. We have daytime students who are unable to attend traditional high school classes. We also have adults who realize the importance of finishing their work toward a high school diploma. Students from any school district in Minnesota may attend the Alternative Education Center.

What type of courses are available?

The AEC offers all the courses a student needs to fulfill graduation requirements for a high school diploma: English, math, science, social studies, health, and a variety of electives.

Eligibility Qualifications to enroll in the AEC?

Alternative education is designed for students who are at-risk of educational failure, is at least 16 years old, and meet one of the following defined criteria in Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.68:

Up to age 21:

  • Is behind in satisfactorily completing coursework or obtaining credits toward graduation
  • Performs substantially below the performance level of pupils of the same age in locally determined achievement tests
  • Is pregnant or is a parent
  • Has been assessed and is chemically dependent
  • Has been excluded or expelled according to sections 121.A.40 to 121A.56
  • Has been referred by a school district for enrollment in an eligible program or a program pursuant to section 124D.69
  • Is a victim of physical or sexual abuse
  • Has experienced mental health problems
  • Has experienced homelessness sometime within six months before requesting a transfer to an eligible program
  • Speaks English as a second language or is an English learner
  • Has withdrawn from school or has been chronically truant

The AEC provides an Independent Study delivery model where students do the majority of their work outside of the traditional classroom. Students are expected to meet face to face with an appropriately licensed teacher on a weekly basis to review student work, clarification of concepts or tasks, assessment of student work, issuance of new work and a discussion as to why work is assigned, and Continuous Learning Plan updates.

There are two options of study available at the AEC; an online system and a unit system. The online system uses the Edgenuity program to provide instruction and includes a tutorial component. The unit system is strictly independent study and most appropriate for a self-directed learner.

Your vision of your future should include these points:

  • In the future there is only one way to make you more employable – get more education.
  • High school graduates earn a significantly greater amount of money in a working lifetime than those who do not graduate from high school. Every increase in your education level will increase your earning power.
  • Most of us work for 30 to 40 years in a lifetime. Your job satisfaction will increase with an increase in skills.
  • We all want to feel good about ourselves. Your self-esteem will increase significantly as your skill level increases.