Higley USD board approves instructional time models for virtual learning

Dawn Foley, Tyler Moore, Shauna Miller
Higley USD Superintendent Dawn Foley (center) addresses the governing board about the district's instructional time model for virtual learning Sept. 22. Looking on are Higley USD Chief Financial Officer Tyler Moore and Special Education Director Shauna Miller. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Higley USD Superintendent Dawn Foley (center) addresses the governing board about the district's instructional time model for virtual learning Sept. 22. Looking on are Higley USD Chief Financial Officer Tyler Moore and Special Education Director Shauna Miller. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Higley USD’s governing board conducted its second required public hearing and approved the district’s instructional time model to meet new state requirements for average daily membership, a key figure in the state’s education funding formulas.

The requirements are a result of House Bill 2862, which the Legislature passed into law in April.

Average daily membership, or ADM, is the total enrollment of fractional students and full-time students, minus withdrawals, of each school day through the first 100 days in session.

Under the bill’s provisions, a governing board, after two public hearings, may adopt any instructional time models to meet the minimum annual instructional time and instructional hours requirements prescribed by law to determine ADM.


A school district may deliver the annual required instructional time to students through any combination direct instruction, project-based learning, independent learning or mastery-based learning, in which students must demonstrate mastery of a topic before moving on to another topic.


A district may define instructional time and instructional hours, without any impact on the district’s funding, to include any combination of in-person instruction or with remote instruction making up to 50% of its total instructional time. The remote instruction percentage portion of that combination will drop to 40% in school year 2022-23 and beyond.


HUSD’s model

HUSD's plan is divided between elementary and secondary school students.

For elementary schools, if a classroom, grade level, or school is required to temporarily transition to virtual learning, synchronous learning will be offered for students.

Students will attend daily live sessions, and attendance will be taken. If a student is in attendance for all live sessions, they will be marked as “remote—present” for the day.

Lessons will be shorter, and duration and supplemental assignments will be provided through Canvas, the district’s learning management system.

On the secondary school level, if a school group or team is required to transition to virtual learning, asynchronous learning will be offered for students. Students will be expected to participate and complete assigned work daily in the district learning management system. If a student participates, they will be marked as “remote—present” for the day.

During asynchronous virtual learning, no direct instruction will be provided. However, students can utilize Canvas communication and set up virtual meetings with their instructors.

However, if an entire school is required to temporarily transition to virtual learning, synchronous learning will be offered for students. Students will attend daily live sessions for each class, and if the student is present for the live instruction, they will be marked as “remote—present” for that class.

Assignments will be provided through Canvas.

Impact on district

If required to switch to temporary virtual learning multiple times, attendance requirements for credit or funding would not impact a student’s ability to receive credit or the district’s ability to receive full ADM.

The models can be used for quarantines that are required by the Maricopa Department of Public Health or for unforeseen closures that last for more than one day, regardless of the reason.

During temporary virtual learning, students will be marked as “remote—absent” if they do not participate. There is no distinction between unexcused and excused in the virtual learning modalities.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.