This is a very unusual time in California public education in that a number of fundamental components of how we operate are changing simultaneously. Some of these significant changes include:
- The adoption of Common Core Standards (CCSS) – a state-led initiative to establish consistent and clear education standards for English-Language Arts and Mathematics that would better prepare students for success in college, career and the competitive global economy. The goal is to allow students to delve deeper into the subject matter and better promote critical thinking, analysis, project-based learning, writing and communication. 45 states, including California, have adopted CCSS, and they go into effect in this state for the 2014-2015 school year.
- New Assessments Coming – In conjunction with the adoption of the Common Core Standards, the State of California has replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Assessments with new Smarter Balanced Assessments which go beyond multiple-choice questions to include extended response and technology enhanced items, as well as performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Some of the tests will be adaptive, and all will be taken on-line. The Smarter Balanced Assessments do not officially roll out until the 2014-2015 school year, but SCSD students will take practice test in Spring 2014, for which the scores will not be published. There will be no STAR testing in 2014, and the existing API scores will be replaced and not comparable to any future assessment results.
- The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) – a new way the state of California will determine the “revenue limit” of most local school districts — it is based on removing most categorical funding streams and replacing it with a base funding amount per student plus supplemental funding for districts based on need — as defined by percentages of students in poverty or who are English language learners. For more detail on LCFF, see SMCSBA’s Position Paper on the new funding system and/or watch my updated video on the history of California education finance.
- Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) – as part of LCFF, school districts are required to develop, adopt, and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), beginning on July 1, 2014, using a template adopted by the California State Board of Education (SBE) (note this template is still in draft form and is expected to finalized this spring). The LCAP is required to identify goals and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators (see below).
- San Carlos Strategic Plan – although specific to SCSD, the recently-adopted Strategic Plan is already starting to re-imagine and re-create public education in our community. The plan is visionary and speaks to how we “break down walls” (figuratively and literally) to create schools that develop and deliver innovative and engaging curriculum and instruction, leverage human capital to support staff as 21st century educators, and build learning environments that reflect, support, and sustain 21st century learners. What has been most remarkable is, in just this year alone, how teachers, principals, and all district staff have embraced this plan and have already designed new methods and programs at all grade levels. Each site has already developed it’s own site implementation plan aligned with the Strategic Plan.
In general, these are all extremely positive developments, and if anything San Carlos’ Strategic Plan goes further than new state regulations in terms of curriculum, assessment, and accountability. At last night’s School Board meeting, we had an extensive conversation about the alignment between our Strategic Plan and LCAP requirements. As part of our plan, we had already envisioned a “dashboard” that the District would use to measure, analyze, and report on performance across a number of different areas, both relating to student achievement as well as general progress toward making the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan. We have a sub-committee working on the design of that platform, but it will likely be a superset of the LCAP requirements, which already include a number new elements and measurements. The eight main categories of LCAP are:
- Basic Services
- Implementation of State Standards
- Parent Involvement
- Pupil Achievement
- Pupil Engagement
- School Climate
- Course Access
- Other Pupil Outcomes
The LCAP requires every school district to have a process for significant community engagement and input as part of the building of the LCAP. Fortunately, this type of engagement has been fairly standard practice in San Carlos, but the LCAP will put a larger umbrella and framework around it. Also, having already built our Strategic Plan through a thorough and thoughtful process over a number of years with participation from staff and community, we have so many of the core elements and ideas of measurement in place.
This presentation gives an overview of LCFF, LCAP, and our timeline and process for both building our first LCAP and of course aligning that with both the Strategic Plan and our annual budget which also has to be completed by the end of the June. Each school will have its own LCAP and that will replace (or otherwise encompass the requirements of) the Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSAs) and perhaps even the School Accountability Report Cards (SARCs). You will certainly hear more over the next couple months about both site-based and district-wide meetings to gather input and discuss the impact of all of these changes. The new district dashboard that we develop will also develop over time as we better understand what we can and are able to measure while having information in a digestible and actionable format for staff, board, and the community.
It’s a very exciting time in public education — it will be a TON of work and we will make mistakes along the way, but San Carlos is very well positioned to be a leader implementing these new changes.