With the passage of the State’s new Local Control Funding Formula Law, accountability and oversight shifted from the State and County Office of Education to the local school district. The State of California is no longer governing what local Districts do. Under "Local Control" District are essentially policing themselves.
Two examples of what "Local Control" means for students:
Class Size Reduction: Under "Local Control" there is no longer penalties for class sizes that exceed the recommended 24:1 in grades K-3. Districts are free to negotiate class size with their Bargaining units that exceed 24:1. Instead, under "Local Control" districts that can reach the recommended 24:1 are given additional funding.
State Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks: Under "Local Control" instruction content and instructional time is left to the individual classroom teacher, the school site principal and district staff. Districts are no longer "required" to follow State Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks. Under "Local Control" State Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks are now a "recommendation", not a "requirement". As an example- if a large class fails to be able to cover the entire Algebra I Curriculum that is OK. Your student will still receive their grade and be promoted to Geometry and then to Algebra II. Only when they sit for their college entrance exams will it become apparent that a student did not learn the entire curriculum that was needed to perform well on their college entrance exams and is now unable to compete with their peers to get into college. Another example is schools that lack funding for core educational curriculum (Art and Music) are no longer required to have a teacher that is credentialed in Art and Music teach their class. Individual classroom teachers are now allowed to simply embed Art and Music in their daily curriculum. The result is the creation of wealth based inequities in the quality of education students receive.
The County Office of Education has also relieved itself of any oversight of the local school district. Oversight is now done through the formation of a "Local Control Accountability Plan" which is designed to have the Public work in conjunction with the District to set goals and measure progress to meeting these goals. The State and County office of education will not intervene unless a District fails to show improvement across multiple subgroups in three out of four consecutive years. For students, that means there is no intervention from the State or the County until there has been an accumulation of comparable data on the new LCAP for three years. Students currently entering High School this year will have no relief until their senior year. That is to late to make a difference for these students.
The new law places an onerous burden on taxpayers and the public to read long LCAP plans (73 pages), to find and identify errors, to attend a Board meeting and speak on the record to notify the District and Trustees of the errors, and then to follow up to see that the errors have been fixed. Even if errors are fixed, the County Office of Education will only take action when there are three years of data that can be used to see if the District is meeting its stated goals to improve education for students.
As part of the LCFF, school districts, COEs, and charter schools are required to develop, adopt, and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) using a template adopted by the California State Board of Education (SBE). In addition, the SBE is required to adopt evaluation rubrics to assist LEAs and oversight entities in evaluating strengths, weaknesses, areas that require improvement, technical assistance needs, and where interventions are warranted on or before October 1, 2016. Subsequent revisions to the template or evaluation rubrics are required to be approved by the SBE by January 31 before the fiscal year in which the template or rubric would be used. The LCAP is required to identify goals and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators.
Other LCFF accountability components include:
- The SBE must adopt regulations that govern the expenditure of the supplemental and concentration grant funding. These regulations will require school districts, COEs, and charter schools “to increase and improve” services for targeted students and will provide authority for school districts to spend funds “school-wide” when significant populations of those students attend a school.
- LEAs must obtain parent and public input in developing, revising, and updating LCAPs.
- County superintendents must review school district LCAPs and ensure alignment of projected spending, services, and goals. Charter school LCAPs will be reviewed by the chartering authority. COEs are required to provide technical assistance when they disapprove an LCAP.
- The State Superintendent of Public Instruction must review LCAPs of COEs, as well as intervene if a school district or charter school fails to show improvement across multiple subgroups in three out of four consecutive years.
- Implementing legislation for LCFF provided $10 million to establish a new regional support network, called the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, to advise and assist LEAs in achieving their LCAP goals.
- Implementing legislation for LCFF reduced subgroup size from 50 to 30 students and established foster youth and homeless youth as new subgroups, with a subgroup size of 15, for purposes of Academic Performance Index accountability.