While no action was taken, ACSA provided input at the Jan. 18-19 State Board of Education meeting on development of California’s System of Support for local education agencies and schools under the Local Control Funding Formula.
In order to improve state education, California is in the process of creating a coordinated and coherent state structure to ensure that LEAs receive resources and support to meet identified student needs, including disparities in student outcomes or opportunities.
The LCFF is the foundation for reimagining the accountability and continuous improvement system. As a result, the state has worked with stakeholders to develop tools for educators to use to help improve outcomes for students, including Local Control and Accountability Plans and the California School Dashboard.
The System of Support is being designed to have three support levels:
- Support for All LEAs and Schools (Level 1). Various state and local agencies provide an array of resources, tools, and voluntary assistance that all LEAs may use to improve student performance at the LEA and school level and narrow disparities among student groups across the LCFF priorities, including recognition for success and the ability to share promising practices.
- Differentiated Assistance (Level 2). County superintendents, the CDE, charter authorizers, and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) provide differentiated assistance for LEAs and schools, in the form of individually designed assistance, to address identified performance issues, including significant disparities in performance among student groups.
- Intensive Intervention (Level 3). The superintendent of public instruction or, for charter schools, the charter authorizer may require more intensive interventions for LEAs or schools with persistent performance issues over a specified time period.
In a letter to SBE President Michael Kirst, ACSA Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez expressed appreciation for the collaboration between the California Department of Education, SBE, CCEE and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association to focus on the immediacy of providing differentiated assistance to LEAs in 2017-18.
However, while much of the recent attention has been placed on the 228 school districts identified for differentiated assistance this year, ACSA encourages the state agencies responsible for building the appropriate support infrastructure to not lose sight of the resources and supports that county offices of education, CCEE and other state agencies could provide for all districts and schools under Level 1.
“Strengthening the support for all districts and schools (Level 1) will serve as a reminder that all LEAs can continuously improve as our school and district leaders strive to close the achievement gaps,” Alvarez said, adding that the association is particularly pleased to learn about the CDE Special Education Division’s efforts to restructure its staff, monitoring and technical support activities.
“Of note, our members look forward to the revamped existing resources and technical assistance hub to align to current LCAP priorities and better inform the field on evidenced-based solutions, resources, and links to currently identified special education challenges,” she said. “We have administrators whose districts were identified for differentiated assistance as a result of the performance of students with disabilities, and who have reiterated their support for the creation of county-led professional learning communities to facilitate networking among high- and low-performing districts with similar demographics.
“There is interest in the field to improve partnerships for higher-achieving districts who performed in the Green or Blue performance categories (on the California School Dashboard) for students with disabilities to share effective practices. This networking could also be facilitated for other student groups, including English learners and low-income students.”
And, ACSA continues to urge alignment of funding under the new accountability system. Under the Local Control Funding Formula, the supplemental and concentration grant funds are focused on increasing or improving services for low-income, English learner and foster youth students. Yet, under the new System of Support, approximately two-thirds of the districts identified for differentiated assistance are based upon the performance of students with disabilities.
“As the state continues to consider how to improve the internal capacity of school districts, schools and their staffs, it is important that we acknowledge a misalignment in our state funding and accountability systems,” Alvarez wrote. “While the LCFF statute may need to change, and that is a legislative request, we encourage the SBE to consider whether the identification of a specific student group – such as students with disabilities – should trigger flexibility or even a requirement to redirect LCFF supplemental and concentration funds to that identified student group in their LCAP.
“School districts would benefit in receiving additional funds or greater flexibility to better support students who are not making progress on two or more of the LCFF priorities as referenced in statute.”
Alvarez told the SBE ACSA stands ready to promote these efforts, and welcomes the opportunity to be a thought-partner and leverage ACSA members’ expertise in building local capacity.
ACSA Governmental Relations staff encourage members to visit the ACSA website at www.acsa.org/accountability for resources on understanding the new accountability and support system and the latest updates from the field.