Credit: Karla Scoon Reid / EdSource

Parents participate in setting priorities in an LCAP planning meeting at Correia Middle School in San Diego Unified in April 2014.

Calling the new state-mandated local accountability plans “a daunting undertaking,” the Legislative Analyst’s Office called on the Legislature to allow school districts to write more focused annual plans for achievement.

The plans, called the Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPS, will become more meaningful if districts can concentrate on “their highest-priority areas” rather than give equal attention to the eight priority areas that the Legislature wrote into law, the LAO said in a report released Monday. The nonpartisan, independent agency studied 50 LCAPs, including those of the 11 biggest districts. The others represent a cross-section of the state’s 1,000 school districts.

The LAO is urging lawmakers to require that districts be clearer in detailing how they will spend money to meet academic and other targets, especially additional funding mandated for “high-needs” students, including English learners and low-income students. The nonprofit advocacy group Education Trust-West made a similar recommendation in its study of districts’ LCAPs, issued last month. Children’s advocacy groups, such as Children Now and Public Advocates, are also recommending that approach.

Districts are required to address two dozen metrics and set goals for a dozen subgroups of students. They include not only English learners, low-income students and foster children, who get extra money under the new funding law, but also eight ethnic and racial groups and special education students.

Last year districts took their initial stab at the LCAP, a three-year planning document, updated annually, that’s required under the Local Control Funding Formula, the state’s new school financing system. The LCAP regulations require districts to set goals for improvement and describe actions they’ll take and money they’ll spend to achieve them in eight priority areas. Those areas include the rollout of the new state academic standards, parent involvement, school climate and academic achievement, which includes test scores, passage rates on Advanced Placement exams and the rate of redesignating English learners as proficient in English. County offices of education review districts’ LCAPs to verify that districts meet legal requirements and allocate enough money to pay for the districts’ commitments.

The LAO cites an example of how a district might approach one goal -- ensuring students are prepared for college or a career – with actions and metrics over three years.

Source: Legislative Analyst's Office

The LAO cites an example of how a district might approach one goal – ensuring students are prepared for college or a career – with actions and metrics over three years. Click to enlarge.

Districts followed temporary regulations last year. They faced a six-month deadline to reach out to parents and the community for their suggestions to complete their LCAPs by July 1. After months of hearing suggestions and complaints about the LCAP process, the State Board of Education strengthened the requirements for parental and student participation and updated the template for filling out the LCAP. The LAO acknowledged that the new template should help create a cleaner, more comprehensible document. But it won’t make the LCAP any less complex; only the Legislature can revise the basic requirements.

Districts are required to address two dozen metrics and set goals for a dozen subgroups of students. They include not only English learners, low-income students and foster children, who get extra money under the new funding law, but also eight ethnic and racial groups and special education students. None of the districts met every statutory requirement, the report said.

The LAO said that such ambitious requirements can lead districts to pay more attention to metrics and details than to larger strategies for improvement. The Legislature should let districts choose their highest priorities, the report said, as well as address critical areas needing improvement. The State Board of Education is developing a set of “evaluation rubrics” that will guide districts and county offices of education in identifying deficient areas in an LCAP; they may include statewide levels of achievement that schools and districts must meet over time. The board’s deadline for adopting the evaluation rubrics is Oct. 1.

Other LAO recommendations for the Legislature include:

  • Requiring districts to distinguish between ongoing and new actions. Many LCAPs didn’t do this, making it hard for the public to determine whether districts are using money to improve and increase services for high-needs students in proportion to the extra money districts received, as the LCAP law requires.
  • Replacing or clarifying some of the metrics the Legislature requires since there are no statewide measurements of parent involvement or access to courses. Also, the Legislature should add more metrics for elementary schools, the report said.
  • Directing the California Department of Education to publicize model LCAPs, including those that best describe and justify services for English learners and low-income children and those that concentrate on “overarching” goals, set clear targets and provide supporting data.
  • Monitoring how districts are using additional resources and taking actions to serve English learners and low-income children, the chief beneficiaries of the new funding system. The LAO said  many districts did not provide enough information in their LCAPs, often reiterating the same goals for English learners and low-income children as for all students. They also didn’t cite “clear or compelling rationales” for using supplemental dollars intended for high-needs students to pay districtwide and schoolwide expenses.

The LAO urges lawmakers to require LCAPs to cite all sources of funding that are going to English learners and low-income children, not just supplemental dollars under the funding formula. If, after a year of monitoring LCAPs, there is no improvement in the information provided, then the Legislature “could consider giving COEs (county offices of education) more authority to disapprove LCAPs that lack such detail.”

Reached for comment Tuesday, Brooks Allen, deputy policy director and assistant legal counsel for the state board, wrote, “We’ve only reviewed the report briefly so far, but remain very open to all suggestions for how to improve student outcomes through the (Local Control Funding Formula) and LCAPs. We appreciate that the LAO highlights the improved LCAP and Annual Update template that (districts) will use for the first time this year and are interested to see the results of the first full year of LCAP implementation.”

LAO education analysts Carolyn Chu and Edgar Cabral  wrote the report.


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  1. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Asking parents to participate in district level plans without telling them how these plans will impact their own schools is an exercise in futility. Parents are hard pressed to participate in their own schools without expecting them to indulge in the district level abstraction that is the LCAP. Moreover, these plans make my year end credit card statement look poetic in comparison. Here's an example from SFUSD: Under the heading - "Keep our promises to students and … Read More

    Asking parents to participate in district level plans without telling them how these plans will impact their own schools is an exercise in futility. Parents are hard pressed to participate in their own schools without expecting them to indulge in the district level abstraction that is the LCAP. Moreover, these plans make my year end credit card statement look poetic in comparison.

    Here’s an example from SFUSD:

    Under the heading – “Keep our promises to students and families and enlist everyone in the community to join us in doing so.”

    there are 3 areas of focus

    1. Reduce Special Education Disproportionate identification of African American Students for Emotional Disturbance (risk ratio)*

    2. ELL Students Reclassified

    3. Culture and Climate surveys for CORE

    or an example

    Under the heading ‘”Create learning environments in all our schools that foster highly engaged and joyful learners and support every student in reaching her or his potential.”

    3 areas of focus

    1. Increase Instructional Time: Reduce disproportionate suspensions of African American and Latino students.

    2. Increase Instructional Time: Reduce the number of unduplicated suspensions of African American and Latino students.

    3. Chronic Absenteeism (all students)

    Besides the fact that 1 and 2 or are repeats of one another… I don’t see anything that focuses on every student (3). If you can stomach reading the whole LCAP you will find that it excludes about 60% of the district. Is the LCAP a document designed only to address the needs of target students?

    Maybe the politicians in Sacramento think that documents like the LCAP have meaning to the community since they spend their time looking at legal documents, but few people are willing to engage in such edutalk, particularly if they see no direct link between that talk and their schools. What is a joyful learner?

    Replies

    • Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

      Don- Districts do not want parental in-put. If parents really understood the new funding formula law and the real choice... raise employee compensation or improve students services - well employees would not have faired as well as they did during the great recession. Education is not about what is in the best interest of students- it is all about adult jobs. I am sure that when 102% of the Districts budget goes towards employee compensation, … Read More

      Don-

      Districts do not want parental in-put. If parents really understood the new funding formula law and the real choice… raise employee compensation or improve students services – well employees would not have faired as well as they did during the great recession. Education is not about what is in the best interest of students- it is all about adult jobs. I am sure that when 102% of the Districts budget goes towards employee compensation, my district will be happy to furlough students 180 days to pay for that.

      I would like to see Ed Source weigh in on whether or not charging students to park on campus is an illegal fee-

      see:
      http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2015/01/public-records-show-capistrano-unified.html

      My District gets 1/2 million a year in illegal parking fees.

    • Alicia Walker 12 months ago12 months ago

      I am starting to see that the LCAP is a complete joke. I am trying to be involved at every level yet at the end of the day my input doesn’t really matter. Don…by the way I was trying to reach you from fb..lol check your other inbox.

  2. el 1 year ago1 year ago

    The emphasis on the supplemental as "new money" that should go to "new programs" misses the possibility that districts were already implementing programs to meet the needs of kids eligible for supplemental grants and creates weird headaches for continuing those programs. In districts that are in 'hold harmless' status for whatever reason, this is especially problematic because it isn't actually "new money" at all. I think one of the biggest limitations of the LCAP is trying … Read More

    The emphasis on the supplemental as “new money” that should go to “new programs” misses the possibility that districts were already implementing programs to meet the needs of kids eligible for supplemental grants and creates weird headaches for continuing those programs. In districts that are in ‘hold harmless’ status for whatever reason, this is especially problematic because it isn’t actually “new money” at all.

    I think one of the biggest limitations of the LCAP is trying to use a relatively short document to make a districtwide plan, rather than having one school by school, or perhaps school region by school region (say a high school and all its feeder schools). To make this plan for a district with three fairly similar high schools is quite different than for a case like LAUSD with over 700 schools spanning the map of possibilities in pretty much every possible dimension.

  3. Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

    You know John you kind of ignore the fact that the Capistrano Unified School District Teachers union (behind closed doors) negotiated to restore salaries at the expense of class size and instructional time. THERE WAS NO OVERSITE.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

      Dawn: I’d be the last to assert that the LCAP will work well in all or most districts; it’s still early. But the law and the process should give parents the legal basis and key information to raise Hell when they have to. And legislators should keep an eye out to change the law if needed.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        John, with all due respect I'm curious to know what you mean by, " the process should give parents the legal basis and key information to raise Hell when they have to". Could you be more specific? What legal basis. Are you talking about litigation? Do you mean it ought to or it does if you want it to? There is no avenue for a complainant akin to the UPC and that is … Read More

        John, with all due respect I’m curious to know what you mean by, ” the process should give parents the legal basis and key information to raise Hell when they have to”. Could you be more specific? What legal basis. Are you talking about litigation? Do you mean it ought to or it does if you want it to? There is no avenue for a complainant akin to the UPC and that is largely defunct with LCFF. One can do the usual – write letters, speak at public comment, etc. Is there something else I’m missing? I’d really like to get an answer from SFUSD as to where they get the money to have class sizes only a third to half the size of the rest of the district. (BTW, it hasn’t done any good.) They never return my calls. Boo hoo.

        • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

          Don, I didn't mean to imply litigation. The Local Control Funding Formula statute establishing the LCAP and the final regs that the State Board adopted provide a detailed process of public participation in determining a school district's academic priorities and spending choices. The LCAP requires extensive documentation of commitments made, and county offices of education are charged with seeing that the process was followed. Districts are required to update the progress. Some districts clearly did … Read More

          Don, I didn’t mean to imply litigation. The Local Control Funding Formula statute establishing the LCAP and the final regs that the State Board adopted provide a detailed process of public participation in determining a school district’s academic priorities and spending choices. The LCAP requires extensive documentation of commitments made, and county offices of education are charged with seeing that the process was followed. Districts are required to update the progress.

          Some districts clearly did a better job following the new law. My guess is that this year, the first full year under the process, may offer better evidence of where it is and isn’t working. You obviously believe San Francisco Unified did a poor job out of the gate.

  4. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Manuel, I doubt you agree much with Ze'ev either. I don't hate it at all that we found some common ground, especially since I attribute the widespread blind acceptance of this phony accountability scheme to liberal naiveté. I only wish more people besides you and me could see through this snow job they call the LCAP. EdSource seems to have bought into it lock, stock and barrel. Repeating what I've said in other threads, LCFF … Read More

    Manuel, I doubt you agree much with Ze’ev either.

    I don’t hate it at all that we found some common ground, especially since I attribute the widespread blind acceptance of this phony accountability scheme to liberal naiveté. I only wish more people besides you and me could see through this snow job they call the LCAP. EdSource seems to have bought into it lock, stock and barrel.

    Repeating what I’ve said in other threads, LCFF is really about getting the CDE and the state government in general out of the compliance business while they keep control of the purse strings. The LCAP is no replacement for any kind of accountability first and foremost because without any clarity on how dollars are spent ostensibly to meet LCAP goals, the people’s business of the district remains shrouded in secrecy. Too few if any make an effort to decipher the budget and they would be working in darkness if they did given the general accounting practices of the school bureaucracies. Naturally, districts are all in favor of this system. It makes inquiry virtually impossible.

    Having extensively researched the spectacularly failed School Improvement Grants, in comparison the LCAP is a virtual giveaway with no meaningful oversight whatsoever. I don’t know if anyone ever questioned the line-item expenses of SIG schools, but they were certainly there to be seen. OTOH LCAP hasn’t got a single dollar figure attached to the entire document for good reason. It keeps everyone from nosing around in it.

    So let’s call the LCAP what it is – a mission statement, nothing more.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

      Don: In case you haven't seen it, the final version of the regulations and template that the State Board adopted in November includes a separate Update section (starting on page 21), requiring each district to provide information on actions, expenditures and achievements for each goal in its LCAP. The public should be able to see whether the district acted on the commitments it made in the LCAP. Of course, parents and teachers will have to … Read More

      Don: In case you haven’t seen it, the final version of the regulations and template that the State Board adopted in November includes a separate Update section (starting on page 21), requiring each district to provide information on actions, expenditures and achievements for each goal in its LCAP. The public should be able to see whether the district acted on the commitments it made in the LCAP. Of course, parents and teachers will have to press the district on the information, and it may take more than a year to see some of the results. County offices, too, have to be thorough in reviewing this part of the LCAP.

      The Update secion is a critical piece of the accountability system, and this year will be the first time we can see it play out and make early judgements.

      Districts will have to update the previous year’s

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Drat! Lost the whole comment because I hadn't filled out the fields above. Don't want to rewrite it, but do want to say thanks for sending the link. In short, that was a positive revision for accountability. On review of the new regs I would say it makes crystal clear that districts have flexibility over how to spend SC grant funds with reasonable explanation per enumerated regs. So much flexibility that you could drive … Read More

        Drat! Lost the whole comment because I hadn’t filled out the fields above.

        Don’t want to rewrite it, but do want to say thanks for sending the link.

        In short, that was a positive revision for accountability. On review of the new regs I would say it makes crystal clear that districts have flexibility over how to spend SC grant funds with reasonable explanation per enumerated regs. So much flexibility that you could drive a whole school through the loophole. If districts only have to generally serve target students, any given student or any given school can be passed over regardless of undup count. This allows districts to press an agenda that is not necessarily good for that given student or school. Such is the case in SF where the Superintendent’s Zones get high priority. (Such, apparently, was the case in LAUSD with funding police.) In SFUSD they’ve been giving the SZ schools this high priority and allocating resources in such a way as to make me wonder if they care at all about the rest of the district. Certainly all the district trhetioric about serving the underserved only matters if those underserved happen to attend one of 16 schools and not one of the 90 others.

        So I say it’s a good start, but it still fails to ensure that individual student who generated the funding to the district is a beneficiary of that funding.

    • Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

      “Repeating what I’ve said in other threads, LCFF is really about getting the CDE and the state government in general out of the compliance business while they keep control of the purse strings.”

      Could not agree with you more!!!1

  5. Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

    With the Passage of the States New LCFF the Capistrano Unified School District received $8.42 million in new funding. However, because there was no LCAP in place to ensure accountability; CUSD passed a 2013- 2014 budget without having any employment contracts in place (over 92% of the budget). Execution of 2013- 2014 employment contracts were intentionally delayed so that new LCFF money could be added to revenues. WHY? So that the COLA + "New" LCFF … Read More

    With the Passage of the States New LCFF the Capistrano Unified School District received $8.42 million in new funding. However, because there was no LCAP in place to ensure accountability; CUSD passed a 2013- 2014 budget without having any employment contracts in place (over 92% of the budget). Execution of 2013- 2014 employment contracts were intentionally delayed so that new LCFF money could be added to revenues. WHY? So that the COLA + “New” LCFF moneys could be combined to trigger $5.622 million in salary restorations from the 2010 teachers strike.

    By delaying contract negotiations CUSD paid employees $5.622 million in salary restorations then started the process of identifying $13,381 in budget cuts for 2013-2014- our current school year.

    The result:
    Protected Salaries- Pensions- Benefits- for employees
    Cuts to student services- Increased class sizes- cuts to programs- deferred maintenance- 3 instructional furlough days

    Source: July 24, 2013 Public Disclosure of Collective Bargaining Agreement presented in a Memo from Clark Hampton, Deputy Superintendent, Business and Support Services to Trustees re: USE OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING FROM 2012-2013 TO 2013-2014 AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT 2013- 2014 http://capousd.ca.schoolloop.com/file/1343191429797/5667737573387975994.pdf at page 3

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

      This is no accident. This was intentional:

      White alone, percent, 2010 (a) San Juan Capistrano 77.1% California 57.6%
      Black or African American alone, percent, 2010 (a) 0.6% 6.2%

      • Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

        Floyd you are correct. The new law is specifically designed to underfund wealthy suburban school Districts and redistribute money they should be receiving to the State to create new entitlement programs and to Districts with high percentages of ELL and poor.

        I wonder what Jerry Brown Offered Janet Napalitano to recant her desire to raise tuition 5% a year for the next 5 years?

  6. Skeptic 1 year ago1 year ago

    The report doesn’t seem to indicate which districts were reviewed. Did the sample include charter schools?

  7. Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

    OK, once more into the breach: As I wrote before, the LCAP process at LAUSD was seriously flawed from the beginning because then Superintendent Deasy made it clear that he would use the S&C grants to do what he had been doing all along, mainly fund Special Education, and whatever other pet project he had (like nearly 25% of the LAUSD police department) calling it "an investment." Of course, he set some of the money aside to … Read More

    OK, once more into the breach:

    As I wrote before, the LCAP process at LAUSD was seriously flawed from the beginning because then Superintendent Deasy made it clear that he would use the S&C grants to do what he had been doing all along, mainly fund Special Education, and whatever other pet project he had (like nearly 25% of the LAUSD police department) calling it “an investment.”

    Of course, he set some of the money aside to pay for things demanded by the agreement with the ACLU about the “Reed schools.” Yet, one of them (Jefferson High School) failed spectacularly precisely because resources were taken away.

    Parents participating in the LCAP review process were never told what the previous year budget was, what the new budget was, nor could they have a meaningful discussion on whether the proposed distribution of funds would advance the eight areas of focus.

    In short, it was a dog-and-pony show that generated some Sturm-und-Drang, complete with the LA County Office of Ed bouncing back the first submission, but in the end it signified nothing since everything went along just as before.

    Is this local control? Yeah, the local superintendent can do whatever s/he wants and never mind the whining of activists.

    Will these suggestions change much? I doubt it because there is still no real discussion of the budget, let alone what it will achieve.

    (BTW, that graph about getting 75% proficient in science in the first year is a real laugher. And taking that rate to 82% in a year is a hoot. Who are the people that come up with things like this? Do they know anything about how you actually teach children? Do they know that this is not like getting better at making widgets? Sheesh…)

  8. Doctor J 1 year ago1 year ago

    Does the LAO specifically identify by name the district’s incuded in their study ? While I concur that the LAO graphic is visually easier to understand, evaluation of accomplishment or progress toward the goal needs to be just as easily understood in specific terms — otherwise the public will not be able to make sense of whether the programs are working.

  9. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    As far as I can tell by the bios of the report authors, neither has a degree in education or any experience working in a K12 setting either as teacher or administrator. Both are policy and finance analysts. It isn't clear to me that the experiences and backgrounds of Chu and Cabral are such that the legislature ought to amend the law based upon their "advice". Why not hear from those who actually have … Read More

    As far as I can tell by the bios of the report authors, neither has a degree in education or any experience working in a K12 setting either as teacher or administrator. Both are policy and finance analysts. It isn’t clear to me that the experiences and backgrounds of Chu and Cabral are such that the legislature ought to amend the law based upon their “advice”. Why not hear from those who actually have to implement the LCAP – the teachers? They are the ones always first to do the heavy lifting, but last to be heard, if ever. Why do we need more policy analysts tell us how best to improve the LCAP?

    But the problem inherent in that document goes deeper. Notice in the article that there’s no mention of verifying compliance on the ground and in the schools with LCAP goals, only compliance that information in the LCAP meets the requirements set forth by the legislature for the document itself. For those familiar with the Single Plan For Student Achievement, these documents are state mandated to this day, yet once completed as a matter of formality by the school leaders they are filed away never to see the light of day until the next year. The LCAPs are another such document, no matter the hype and hoopla surrounding them. I can tell you first hand that here in SFUSD, once the LCAP process was completed, any interest it generated was gone and that was precious little to begin with given the lack of information provided to the public and the fact that it transpired as the school year was winding down and after it ended. At present I can assure you that the document itself has been assigned a secluded spot in the Superintendent’s file folder “L”. And the district carries on doing exactly what it did before the LCAP’s dog and pony show. The only difference is that the lowest performing Superintendent Zone schools now receive not only their share of the SC grant funding based upon the unduplicated count, but they also received most of the funding that other target students brought to the district under FRPM designation who don’t attend the select schools identified for special treatment by this Board and Superintendent Carranza.

    This the BIG LIE that is LCFF. SC grants funding to districts has no relation to SC grant funding to schools. If the legislature truly wanted every target student who generates funding to actually receive a benefit from the funding, it cannot give districts cart blanche to spend it as they will with only the vaguest promise to actually meet the needs of those target students. Policy analysts may conclude that target groups as statistical sets have been served, but teachers know better when they see the money all pouring into other schools and large groups of underperforming students get no benefit from the funds they generated to the district from the state. We don’t need policy analysts treating children as statistics. We need a true per pupil funding mechanism and teachers and parents deciding how best to develop a meaningful LCAP that they then have the authority to implement and oversee.

    Anyone who believe this LCAP is anything but smoke and mirrors, well… I have the newest reform fad to sell you.

    Replies

    • Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

      I hate it when I agree with Don… 😉

      (a tip of the hat to Zev)

  10. Paul Muench 1 year ago1 year ago

    On the LAO graphic it's much easier to make sense of the absolute goals than the relative goals. I don't have to discover the history of proficiency scores in order to make sense of those goals. But I'd have to find the current number of science teachers before I can determine the significance of that goal. More challenging is to find the number of science teachers three years ago. Given this … Read More

    On the LAO graphic it’s much easier to make sense of the absolute goals than the relative goals. I don’t have to discover the history of proficiency scores in order to make sense of those goals. But I’d have to find the current number of science teachers before I can determine the significance of that goal. More challenging is to find the number of science teachers three years ago. Given this is an accountability plan that is an important piece of information.

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