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California Schools Under Pressure From New Funding Accountability

by Michael Abrams, published

California Schools Under Pressure From New Funding Accountability

This year, Governor Jerry Brown championed a breakthrough in the way California schools will be funded for the next eight years. Along with the 2013-2014 budget, he signed a local control funding formula (LCFF) that directed more funds to districts with a higher proportion of disadvantaged students (low-income or English-learners).

In the funding formula, local districts would have the freedom to spend the money as they fit. Accountability measures are also included in the midst of local control, which may be putting a strain on districts early in the formula's implementation.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and State Controller John Chiang will have to create the policies and standards for how local districts adopt budgets. That deadline is January 1 of next year.

There will also be new regulations on how districts spend money in relation to its population of disadvantaged students by January 31 of next year.

The State Board of Education will have to make changes to the academic performance index (API), the state's measurement of student success. API must now track the progress of subgroups of demographics, including foster care students. This needs to be done by January 30, 2014.

School districts will need to create annual plans, alongside parent groups, on how it will spend its money. This also relies on the state education board on creating a template for districts by March of next year.

Lastly, the State Board of Education needs to evaluate the results of LCFF by creating a rubric for tracking accountability measures. From SI&A Cabinet Report:

"A deadline of Oct. 31, 2015 for adopting an evaluation rubric that provides a “holistic multidimensional assessment” of how a has done to meet the new accountability mandates. The rubric would also be used to help the state and county offices with intervention if needed for those districts that are not meeting their goals."

The new funding formula was intended to untie the hands of schools to spend money on what is important to the school. However, it looks as if regulations the Legislature called for in the budget process are creating more education bureaucracy. But again, if the state gives districts money without specific spending mandates, then there has to be some way to keep districts accountable.

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