Input sought on accountability plan

July 21, 2017

The State Board of Education deliberated for more than eight hours July 12 on the various components of the new accountability system and the emerging system of support. Finessing the California School Dashboard and reconciling it with the draft Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan is proving to be harder than anticipated.

Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez, who oversees the actions of the SBE for ACSA, said the association was fortunate to have Ralph Porras, chair of ACSA’s Accountability and Continuous Improvement Task Force, speak on behalf of our members on items before the board.

The California Department of Education staff presented functional changes to the dashboard for fall 2017. Administrators and other stakeholders are encouraged to share major structural changes the CDE could consider making to the dashboard for fall 2018.

“We are pleased that a newly established California Advisory Task Force on Alternative Schools includes strong representation from ACSA’s Educational Options Council, as this group will consider a unique set of indicators for alternative schools,” Alvarez said.

The SBE approved the eligibility criteria alternative schools of choice and charter schools must meet to qualify as alternative schools, she said. CDE will release the alternative schools application in August. In order to be considered for exclusion from the fall 2017 dashboard, schools will be required to submit their application by Oct. 6. Note that alternative schools identified in the Education Code do not need to apply to obtain this status.

The approved new criteria will:

  • make it harder for charter schools to simply claim alternative school status, but adds seven new definitions for students designated as “high-risk.” These include students who are credit deficient, have gaps in enrollment, and foster/homeless/emotionally disturbed youth.
  • district-operated schools are automatically considered as “alternative” if at least 70 percent of students participated in the California Alternative Assessment (CAA).

Since Assembly Bill 1661 (Limon) to repeal the Academic Performance Index became a two-year bill, the SBE took action to suspend the API for the 2016-17 school year, an action ACSA supported.

Proposed regional support

Alvarez reports that a portion of the discussion also centered on what the state’s system of support for schools and local educational agencies could look like.

“While CDE presented a proposed regional structure of support as an informational item to seek input from the SBE and members of the public, there were more questions than answers, since few details were provided,” she said. “This regional structure does not attempt to define what support local educators find effective, and instead intends to coordinate and align resources and supports. The form and content of specific resources and supports in the regional structure would be informed by feedback from local educators and stakeholders.”

In the proposed regional structure, county offices of education are the primary unit of assistance/support under the Local Control Funding Formula; the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence would be charged with providing advice and assistance to LEAs statewide in coordination with COEs; and the California Department of Education would be responsible for implementing and providing oversight for numerous state and federal programs that support LEAs and schools across its divisions.

The SBE was presented with emerging themes from meetings of the stakeholder groups and the California Practitioners Advisory Group about the assistance and resources needed to support the system. Those include:

  • We know what doesn’t work – “wrong door” theory.
  • Local educators and stakeholders need to define assistance.
  • Focus on the root causes and building capacity locally.
  • Coordinate support and assistance across participants.

“The SBE tasked CDE staff to continue soliciting input from the field to better inform the right structure, so that the system of support is embraced by educators and school leaders, instead of seeing it as compliance,” Alvarez said. “Since the proposed framework had very few details, board members raised many questions, including who would train the regional county leads, what drives the decisions to know what interventions are needed, and what the roles and responsibilities would be for each of the state agencies tasked to support this work.”

For more information on this proposed structure, see Item 2 on the July agenda.

ACSA wants to hear from you on what supports you need and who you think is best positioned to support your work. Send your feedback and thoughts to

ESSA state plan

The other major topic of discussion was proposed revisions to the draft Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan, which the SBE is required to submit to the U.S. Department of Education by Sept. 18.

“We appreciate that the draft ESSA State Plan embraces the state’s new multi-dimensional, holistic and continuous improvement system with multiple measures, and the principles of LCFF as a cornerstone in the development of this plan,” Alvarez said.

Under the proposed criteria adopted by the SBE to comply with federal accountability requirements, school performance will be based on all applicable state indicators receiving equal weight, with English language arts and mathematics considered two separate indicators in order to provide greater differentiation among schools. Under this methodology, the lowest 5 percent of Title 1 schools will be identified as those with all red state indicators first, then move to all red except one orange, and so on, with no particular weight to any state indicator. The California School Dashboard uses a color coding system, with blue signifying the best results and red the worst.

The SBE also reiterated its interest in linking the identification of the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title 1 schools under ESSA (at least 298 schools) to LEAs identified for support under LCFF (181 schools preliminarily identified), using the criteria the SBE adopted at its September 2016 meeting.

“The board delayed adopting a final methodology until more current data becomes available through the fall 2017 Dashboard release, since this will reflect the LEAs actually identified for support under the state accountability system,” Alvarez said. “The SBE will consider a proposed plan supplement at its January 2018 meeting for submission to the U.S. Department of Education that describes the approach for identifying schools beyond the baseline methodology.”

Under LCFF law, LEAs will need to be identified for support in 2017-18, while ESSA requires schools to be identified for support starting in the 2018-19 school year.

Other key topics that generated lengthy discussion included the adoption of a long-term goal for making progress in each of the state indicators. Per the SBE action, the long-term goal will be set at the “High” status mark and “Maintained” change mark, with green cells for the required indicators, and all blue cells and green cells to the right of the goal exceeding the goal, and the “Very High” and “Declined” green cell meeting the goal. The timeline for meeting the long-term goals will be seven years, and LEAs will be able to locally identify their interim goals to make progress towards reaching the statewide target.

Lastly, under the ESSA, states must report on whether disadvantaged students have a higher proportion of ineffective, out-of-field or inexperienced teachers than do their peers. Since California does not currently have a definition for “ineffective teachers,” the SBE is required to adopt one. Despite concerns raised by ACSA and other equity and civil right organizations, the SBE adopted a definition favored by the California Teachers Association that will define an “ineffective teacher” as one who is improperly assigned or who does not have proper credentials.

Alvarez said, “We have argued that this definition misses a teacher who is fully credentialed but ineffective in instructional practices, while other advocates suggested the use of absentee rates, but (SBE) President Kirst believes there isn’t currently enough time or data to use those components.”

Since major decisions will be taking place at the Sept. 13 SBE meeting, ACSA members are encouraged to lend their voices in these important discussions that will impact students’ education. To sign up to speak at the SBE meeting, or to provide input, contact

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