From the Executive Director

July 3, 2017

The State Board of Education has a lot of work ahead as the deadline to adopt an ESSA state plan approaches.

While there are differences between California’s LCFF and the federal ESSA laws – primarily that LCFF focuses on providing support to local educational agencies, whereas ESSA focuses on identifying schools need-ing additional support – the Board is standing by its commitment to develop a single accountability system embracing California’s direction of using multiple measures. That means a whole new bucket of considerations for our education leaders.

There are two components I believe are crucial to how business is done under the ESSA plan: what is the methodology for determining the lowest 5 percent of schools, and how do we provide resources to support the capacity building of the schools falling into that lowest 5 per-cent. Then what can we do to build the capacity of teachers and administrators who are responsible for providing support to our students.

The state’s thoughts on capacity building are close to our ongoing discussion about continuous improvement. I’ve long promoted continuous improvement as a means of supporting students, not a compliance or punitive system. We want a system that empowers all student advocates, and ACSA has done an incredible job in pushing this message across all fronts.

The 2017-18 California budget will bring LCFF implementation to 97 percent of the funding targets. As we judge the successes and challenges of that system, we have to embrace that the new accountability and continuous improvement system will likely follow the same, fluid process. As the state continues to refine the various aspects of this system as a result of feedback from the field, that means what we see now may not exist in September, and what we see in September may not exist 12 months from now.

Education leaders are confronted with a number of questions right now, including: What does support and capacity building look like? What role does equity play? How should we effectively link resources and support?

But when we focus on students, we have to determine how to ensure the right resources get into the hands of those who can impact students, and can we make it happen at the right time. This focus is not solely on teachers and it’s important that administrators and education stake-holders understand that aspect.

Here is my ask to all of you: get involved. ACSA Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez wants your feedback on ESSA and other aspects of this new system. Our members will testify before the SBE next week. This will be the last discussion before CDE staff brings back the proposed final ESSA State Plan at their Sept. 14 meeting. Contact her at malvarez@acsa.org.

- Wesley Smith

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