CREDIT: Ana Tintocalis/CCEE
The Palo Verde Unified School District is one of a dozen districts receiving intense support from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. Teachers are now using data in more meaningful ways to improve student learning at schools like Felix J. Appleby Elementary School.

As the Golden State enters a new year full of promise and opportunity, it will take all the educational agencies that support our children to work together to realize the goals of the state’s Local Control Funding Formula. The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence is committed to partnering with all these groups to strengthen supports for each and every student.

The Collaborative, also known as the CCEE, was established by the Legislature in 2013 to “advise and assist” county offices of education, districts, and schools in achieving their Local Control Accountability Plan goals, as well as to support and facilitate continuous improvement efforts across the state.

Headshot of Tom Armelino

Tom Armelino

The Collaborative is a different kind of statewide agency that exists to help ‘local control’ work. We do not carry out any compliance or accountability functions. Rather, our staff are education professionals who fully embrace the concepts of empowering local decision-making and collaboration.

Much of our work in 2019 will be focused on teaming with the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education and county offices of education to operationalize the new System of Support, a foundational element of California’s groundbreaking school accountability system.

The new system does not punish districts, rather it connects districts to county offices of education and statewide agencies like the Collaborative so educators can tap into rich local resources designed to improve teaching and learning.

To that end, the Collaborative has been working closely with the California Department of Education to establish new key supports within the System of Support. The state has designated a range of agencies to take the lead in everything from special education to English language acquisition.

  • Geographic Lead Agencies– will create teams of technical assistance experts within seven regions of the state. For example, one Geo Lead Agency consists of two county offices of education: San Diego and Riverside. Experts within these two county offices of education will now be able to offer targeted supports to districts in any part of the state.
  • SELPA Lead Agencies– will strengthen California public schools by training and supporting Special Education Local Plan Areas or SELPAs across the state to use best practices in data analysis, root cause analyses and systems alignment. In addition, SELPA Leads will help counties and schools develop and implement evidence-based instructional practices for students with disabilities.
  • Community Engagement Initiative– will establish professional learning networks (PLNs) across the state consisting of educators, community members, parents and non-profit leaders to help counties and districts build their capacity in this area.

There are many more resources this year within the System of Support to help the 374 school districts that are now eligible for differentiated assistance — a process whereby districts receive individually tailored support to help them improve student outcomes and reduce disparities in performance among student groups — and we are committed to serving counties by helping them identify and match districts with an array of available resources based on local needs.

At the same time, under the recent Budget Trailer Bill AB 1840, the Collaborative has the new state responsibility of working directly with some districts considered to be in “fiscal distress.” We stand ready to support these districts as a strategic thought partner, facilitator, connector of resources and innovator.

In addition, the Collaborative will continue to support the professional development of county and district leaders up and down the state through:

  • Professional learning networks (PLNs) that bring together county and district educators who focus on addressing the most pressing educational challenges in their region and collaborate to find solutions to improve teaching and learning.
  • Free in-person and online trainings that focus on high-priority topics in order to build the skills and knowledge of state educators in all aspects of “local control” from providing greater budget transparency to creating more meaningful Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs).
  • Free online, customizable toolkits that supplement our in-person and online trainings, helping educational agencies across the state expand their own training programs and other resources.

Statewide educational agencies like the Collaborative, county offices of education, partner agencies and other stakeholder groups now form a statewide team that will work side-by-side with districts so they can better support all students.

The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence will never lose sight of the children and families that the Local Control Funding Formula was enacted to raise up and I strongly believe that collectively we can get this done.

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Tom Armelino is the executive director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence

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