California Educator

October 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 51

I n September, the California State Board of Education (SBE) approved major elements of a new accountability system that evaluates schools and school districts through mul- tiple m easures, in 10 areas deem ed critical to student success. The new system replaces the often-criticized Aca - demic Performance Index (API), which relied almost solely on standardized test scores to measure school and student progress — and which raised the stakes higher under No Child Left Behind, to the point where even schools that were making significant progress could be deemed failures and subjected to sanctions. The ambitious new plan includes rubrics supporting state indicators such as graduation rates, readiness for college and careers, progress of Engli sh learn- ers, suspension rates, and math and English language arts assessments for grades 3-8. Local indicators include factors such as school climate, access to up-to-date instructional materials, safe schools and parent engagement. e system is tied directly to the state's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) developed by school dis- tricts under the new funding approach. e rubrics, referred to as the LCFF Evaluation Rubrics, align to eight priorities the state has designated under LCFF and LCAP. ese priorities give districts general direction in how funding should be allocated. Among them are student achievement, the proper assignment of teachers, and parent involvement. Schools and districts are required to show improvement based on the pri- orities and their local plan. Multiple indicators needed CTA President Eric Heins co-chaired the state's 30-member Advisory Task Force on Accountability, a group primarily com- prising educators. e task force's final report, released in May, contains recommendations that were ultimately adopted in the new accountability system. CTA also directly lobbied the SBE to include key elements such as school climate in the new rubrics. Heins uses a car dashboard analogy in describing the usefulness of the new measures. "You need several gauges that together give you critical information as you drive," he explains. "Just looking at one thing isn't enough. Test scores may tell you something, but they don't tell the whole story, and they don't get to the 'why' that we hope some of these new indicators will help with." CTA members and staff provided continuous feedback to the SBE and the California Department of Education throughout the adoption process, constantly pushing for new measures and the establishment of additional committees to broaden those measures. Instituting the new measures included developing a statewide school climate survey and defining measures of English learner progress. CTA members have been appointed to all of the committees. e new rubrics should provide better clarity to local districts as they develop and implement their accountability plans. Many CTA chapters have been proactive and involved in the LCAP process, but many have expressed frustra- tion that districts make only cursory attempts to get chapter and parent input before doing what- ever they want to do anyway. Part of the problem has been getting districts to accept a fundamental shift in how funding works and in what they can and can't do with state money. Shift from compliance Under the previous system of largely "categorical" funding, there was a huge emphasis on compli- ance and making sure that dollars were spent within very specific guidelines. e LCFF/LCAP system offers far more flexibility, encouraging districts not to focus on what they can do, but instead to ask what they should do for students, and then incorporate those ideas into their LCAP. Involvement in the LCAP process is critical for local associ- ations. A district's LCAP outlines not only how progress will be measured against local goals, but also how funding will be spent. This issue came to a head in the recent Yuba City strike, when the district wrongly argued that LCFF funds couldn't be used to support students by attracting and retaining educators, despite a clarifying letter from state Superintendent Tom Torlakson stating otherwise. Both supplemental dollars and concentration grants under LCFF are used to support low-income students, English learn- ers and foster youth, and that includes money to hire and pay qualified teachers and other educators to support those stu- dents. Focusing on an area like teacher recruitment will likely be an even more important part of many LCAPs in the coming years as California faces a major teacher shortage. "Any time you look at any child or group, you want to use indicators that are giving you a complete picture. We are really on the doorstep of developing something that could be groundbreaking." — CTA President ERIC HEINS Beyond Test Scores New accountability system clarifies school and district focus on continuous improvement for students By Frank Wells 32 advocacy

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - October 2016