New research shows that California’s overhaul of public education finance and accountability is narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students and helping parents learn about school progress.
The Learning Policy Institute on Friday released “Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform External link opens in new window or tab.,” a study by researcher Sean Tanner and U.C. Berkeley professor Rucker Johnson.
The authors examined the impact of the landmark Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which gave school districts greater control over the use of state funds in exchange for greater accountability and parent engagement at the local level. LCFF, which was approved in 2013, also increased funding to districts that serve students needing extra support.The authors found that LCFF “led to significant increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among children from low-income families.” Students in the highest poverty districts showed greater academic gain, the authors reported. The study also found that LCFF funding was used to improve classroom learning by lowering student-to-teacher ratios and helping districts recruit and train new teachers.
“Money targeted to students’ needs can make a significant difference in outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “Money matters.”
Source: School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
With Gov. Jerry Brown retiring a year from now, EdSource asked two dozen school leaders, student advocates, legislators and other astute observers to suggest the most important improvements needed to make his landmark education law, the Local Control Funding Formula, more effective, equitable and truer to its promise. Their insightful recommendations touched on the key aspects of the law — its need-based funding formula, school accountability requirements and a focus on school improvement through local control. There was some common ground, plenty of disagreement and one response in verse. Their recommendations are summarized below and my own observations are in a separate column.
Source: 24 ideas for improving the Local Control Funding Formula | EdSource
By Dan Walters
California has spent tens of billions of extra dollars on its K-12 school system in recent years on promises that its abysmal levels of academic achievement – especially those of disadvantaged children – would be improved.
And what have those massive expenditures – a 50 percent increase in per-pupil spending – and a massive reworking of school curriculums accomplished?
Not much, the latest results from annual testing indicate.
Mathematics and English tests based on “Common Core” standards were administered last spring to half of the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students, those in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11.
Source: CALmatters Commentary: Latest academic tests underscore California’s education crisis
By Iwunze Ugo and Laura Hill
School funding for both traditional public schools and charter schools underwent a major change in 2013, with the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Seeking to focus on high-need students—those who are economically disadvantaged, English Learners (EL), or foster youth1—and expand local authority and accountability over education spending, the new funding formula shifted away from the system of revenue limits and categorical programs, which had long been criticized as outdated and overly restrictive.2 The LCFF provides funding to school districts and charter schools through uniform base grants that are augmented by two levels of additional funding for high-need students: the supplemental grant, which provides added funding based on a district’s share of high-need students, and the concentration grant, which provides even more funding for districts in which more than 55 percent of students are identified as high need.
Before the LCFF, charter schools received less per pupil funding than traditional public school districts because some categorical funding was not available to them (Estrada 2012).3 Charter schools are now incorporated into a unified structure where they are treated much like school districts in terms of funding and accountability. There is, however, a provision in the LCFF that limits the amount of funding that some charters receive. While districts receive concentration grant funding if their share of high-need students is above 55 percent, the grant for a charter school is calculated based not on that school’s share of high-need students but on the share in the local district—if it is lower. This provision—which aims to discourage districts from trying to relieve pressure on their budgets by converting schools with many high-need students into charters, thus isolating them from less-disadvantaged students and communities (Fensterwald 2013, Cabral and Chu 2013)—lowers the amount of funding allocated to some charter schools. Charter schools serve more than 565,000 students4—many of whom are high need—and these somewhat arbitrary disparities have the potential to impact a substantial number of them.
Source: Charter Schools and the Local Control Funding Formula – Public Policy Institute of California
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District heard an update on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) at Thursday’s school board meeting.
The LCAP is a plan that is required by all public schools in California to receive funding provided through the Local Control Funding Formula, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. BUSD’s LCAP has outlined three goals for the district:To create a collaborative team of highly engaged staff that supports the academic, emotional and social success of all students for college and career readiness.To modernize and improve infrastructure to provide a learning environment that offers opportunities for 21st-century teaching and learning.
To increase community and parental involvement through awareness and engagement.Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson and Educational Services Coordinator Stephanie Rice presented an update on the LCAP, which Beatson described as “a wrap-up from last year’s (strategic) plan.”
Source: Assistant supe provides update on LCAP goals to school board
The State Board of Education today approved a plan for using federal assistance that upholds California’s commitment to the ground-breaking educational reforms of the Local Control Funding Formula.
Every state that receives federal funding to support low-income students and English language learners is required to submit an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Several states submitted their plans earlier this year, while California and more than 30 other states will be submitting their plans on September 18.
The plan—essentially a grant application—allows each state to make a case for how it will utilize and manage federal dollars.California’s ESSA plan meets federal requirements while ensuring the state retains maximum flexibility to continue its shift away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that allows local school districts to better meet local needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.
“With the ESSA plan, we believe we have achieved the right balance between meeting federal requirements and focusing on our state priorities that will help prepare all students for college and careers,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford University professor emeritus. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education as our application moves through their process.”
Source: State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Michael Kirst
California is fast approaching the September 18 deadline to submit its draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the federal government. This plan – essentially a grant application – allows California to makes its case for utilizing federal funds to assist low-income students across the state.
Our plan meets the federal government’s requirements while affirming California’s commitment to local control that allows teachers, principals and superintendents to meet the needs of our diverse students.
However, it is shortsighted to judge California’s efforts to improve outcomes for all students by the draft plan alone. California has a much bigger plan: the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, which has been developed over years with input from thousands of Californians and youth advocates. The Local Control Funding Formula empowers parents, students, teachers and community members to recognize inequities and develop and implement programs that meet the needs of all students.
Source: California’s education plan affirms commitment to local control | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Travis Unified leaders approved the 45-day revision to the district’s 2017-18 budget of $56.7 million, with $1.2 million in deficit spending and a $4.8 million ending fund balance.
In accord with the Budget Act, California school districts are required to make public any revisions to their annual budgets with 45 days after the initial adoption on or before July 1 every year.
During a meeting Tuesday night in the Travis Education Center, Sonia Lasyone, the district’s new chief business officer, told the five-member governing board that revenues, because of “one-time” mandated state dollars, will increase nearly $800,000 this coming year, welcome news.
But, she noted, there was some bad news, too: Local Control Funding Formula sources will drop by $19,000 this fiscal year, and by $131,000 and $199,000, respectively, in the next two.
Via: Travis school board ok’s 45-day budget revision
By John Fensterwald
Rick Simpson didn’t write Proposition 98, the complex formula that determines how much money in the state budget goes to K-12 schools and community colleges each year. But for three decades after its inception in 1988, Simpson was an expert in its implementation as a senior adviser on education for eight Assembly Speakers.
Now recently retired, he’s pitching a tax proposal that would liberate schools from Prop. 98’s constraints. He says the only realistic way for schools to raise significantly more revenue is to give districts more authority to tax themselves. It will take a constitutional amendment, which he hopes that either the Legislature or voters, through an initiative, will place on the 2020 ballot. At this point, though, it’s just talk. No leaders or groups have stepped forward to embrace it.
Source: Expanding their taxing power would be one way to provide school districts more money | EdSource
By Theresa Harrington
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the $183 billion state budget on Tuesday, after announcing he had reached an agreement on the details with legislative leaders earlier this month.
“California is taking decisive action by enacting a balanced state budget,” Brown said. “This budget provides money to repair our roads and bridges, pay down debt, invest in schools, fund the earned income tax credit and provide Medi-Cal health care for millions of Californians.”
The 2017-18 budget allocates more money to K-12 schools and community colleges, expected to increase by $3.1 billion over the 2016-17 level to $74.5 billion. School districts’ share of the increase will include $1.4 million more for the Local Control Funding Formula, bringing its full implementation to 97 percent complete.
Source: Governor signs 2017-18 budget allocating more money to schools | EdSource
By Justin Allen, Daniel J. Willis and John Fensterwald
The Legislature passed a $183 billion state budget for 2017-18 last week that includes a $3.2 billion increase in funding under Proposition 98, the formula that determines how much of the General Fund will go to K-12 school, community colleges and state-funded preschool programs. The additional $3.2 billion represents an increase of 4.4 percent over last year’s allocation, bringing Prop. 98 next year to $74.5 billion.
Source: How the 2017-18 funding increase for California education will be spent | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
California school districts won’t have to wait an extra year to get nearly $1 billion in one-time funding, as Gov. Jerry Brown proposed last month. And after-school and summer program providers will see their first funding increase in more than a decade, under the terms of the 2017-18 state budget that legislative leaders and the Brown administration negotiated last week.
The Legislature must pass the proposed $126 billion state budget by Thursday to meet a constitutional deadline. Schools and community colleges will get a sizable share of the funding increase. Funding under Proposition 98, the formula that determines K-12 and community colleges’ share of state revenue, will rise $3.1 billion – 4.4 percent – to $74.5 billion. School districts’ share of the increase will be $2.8 billion.
Source: Gov. Brown agrees not to hold back money from California schools next year | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
Four years after its passage, the Local Control Funding Formula has narrowed and, by some measures, reversed the funding gap between the lowest- and highest-poverty districts in California.
But an infusion of funding hasn’t translated yet into improved opportunities for low-income students and English learners – and may not achieve that goal without tighter disclosure rules and more innovative approaches to distributing districts’ resources, a student advocacy organization said in a report published Thursday.
“We need more clarity on where money is going. Without transparency, community stakeholders, policymakers and the broader public are left to wonder whether this massive public experiment and investment is paying off,” said the Education Trust–West in “The Steep Road to Resource Equity in California Education.”
Source: Local control formula closing funding gap but not equity gap, report says | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
After some field testing, the state’s new school “report card” system, giving parents another way to evaluate their child’s learning environment, will finally debut Wednesday, state officials have announced.
The California School Dashboard, as it’s called, will go live to the general public at www.cde.ca.gov/dashboard.
The public rollout will come nearly nine weeks after the State Board of Education formally approved it, with several changes to be made to strengthen and improve it for the 2017-18 academic year, when it will go into full effect.
Source: State’s new school “report card” system debuts Wednesday – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
California has the most diverse public school student population in the nation and it is increasingly “minority majority” in its enrollments.
Under components of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, the state’s 1,000 school districts must devise a plan of action to meet the educational needs for every student in California, where, according to data from the 2000 Census, 60 percent of state residents speak only English, while 40 percent speak another language (either instead of, or in addition to, English).
To that end, the Solano County Office of Education plans to launch a “cultural proficiency” program to better serve students in an increasingly diverse county, where, essentially, the world has arrived during the better part of the last half century.
Source: SCOE to sponsor ‘cultural proficiency’ program for educators – The Reporter
By Michael Kirst
The State Board of Education has been working for several years to develop a new accountability system based on the Local Control Funding Formula, which the Legislature and governor passed in 2013. In September, the state board will take an important step forward by establishing a new way to measure progress and identify problems in our schools and districts, giving parents, teachers and community members a better idea of what is happening at their schools.
Accountability systems serve multiple functions, including providing guidance to parents, highlighting schools’ strengths and diagnosing their weaknesses, and helping educators design and implement strategies to assist schools.
For 15 years, California evaluated schools and districts largely by looking at a single number that relied exclusively on test scores – the Academic Performance Index (API). This gave us a narrow view. A single number is not sufficient to evaluate an employee or buy a house. Similarly, we shouldn’t depend on just one indicator to understand school performance. Furthermore, the API said nothing about other essential components of a successful school such as high school graduation rates, attendance, suspension rates, career and college readiness, and English learner progress.
Source: California must move ahead on new approach to school accountability
By Louis Freedberg
California is on the verge of finalizing what leading educators believe is the most ambitious attempt in the nation to use multiple dimensions to measure how well – or poorly – a school or district is doing, rather than focusing primarily on test scores.
“All across the country people are paying attention to what California is doing,” Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, said at a recent California School Boards Association conference.
The deadline for approving the plan is barely two months away, as required by a state law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which reformed both the way schools are funded and how progress will be measured.
The state’s goal has been to come up with a system that will require schools and districts to measure how they are doing on eight “priority areas“ ranging from test scores to less definable measures such as school climate.
Source: As deadline looms, California struggles to finalize new school accountability system | EdSource
By Jennifer Peck and David Plank
When we think of school we too often picture rows of students sitting quietly at their desks, listening to the teacher or reading a textbook. This familiar image of a quiet classroom and docile students is and should be increasingly outdated. The state’s new Common Core and Next Generation science standards require teachers to teach and students to learn in more dynamic ways. They raise the bar for subject-matter knowledge in English, math and science.
These standards also aim to ensure that students engage in deeper learning by focusing on what are sometimes called “the four C’s:” communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. These are skills that are essential for success in today’s job market that cannot be nurtured if students are sitting quietly in rows in the classroom.
California’s new Common Core standards and a growing body of research are driving increased interest in social-emotional learning as an essential component of student success. Without skills like the ability to manage stress, to empathize with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and to engage successfully in the small-group work required for deeper learning, students cannot be successful. And, unless educators work actively to help students develop these skills, schools will not be able to deliver on the broader set of Local Control Funding Formula priorities that the state has adopted, promoting positive and productive school climates.
Source: Summer and after-school programs can promote social and emotional learning | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Travis Unified leaders, when they gather tonight in Fairfield for a special governing board meeting and workshop, will hear from a district official about the importance of parental involvement in their children’s academic life.
Parental involvement will be a “major focus” of the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan through 2019, Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for student learning and educational services in the 5,100-student district, wrote in an email to The Reporter late Monday.
Among the changes to the LCAP — basically, the document that typically guides all of a California school district’s spending under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula — will be the addition of the Parent Project and Parent Project Jr. training next year.
Source: In TUSD, parental involvement is a major focus of the LCAP
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced a “Tech Challenge” to California”s technology industry to help improve access to Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs).
Torlakson made the announcement during a presentation to the prestigious South by Southwest® Education conference in Austin, Texas.
“Today, I challenge the tech community – by fall 2016 – to assemble a dream team with one goal. Develop a user-friendly portal and application for the Local Control Accountability Plans.”
The LCAPS are a critical part of California”s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for schools. Each school district must engage parents, educators, employees, and the community to establish these plans, which describe the school district”s overall vision for students, annual goals, and specific actions.
Source: Torlakson Issues Tech Challenge – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)