New school accountability monitor starts work

New school accountability monitor starts work

(Calif.) A newly-created state agency whose role in overseeing school accountability and performance may prove critical in years to come is set to hold its first meeting today with the adoption of bylaws and consideration of staff.

Sweeping legislation passed in 2013 that restructured the fiscal relationship between K-12 schools and the state also created the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence – a five member board charged with helping the state and county offices of education monitor the progress local educational agencies make in meeting California’s educational priorities.

More specifically, the CCEE has been tasked by the Legislature to help manage the promises LEAs make in their Local Control Accountability Plans and provide assistance when efforts fall short.

Brown and legislative leaders thoroughly revised both the funding and the accountability of public schools with the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula two years ago.

Replacing a complex set of formulas that governed how much state money schools received, lawmakers streamlined the system down to four grants based on student demographics with most of the money going to educationally disadvantaged students – low income, English learners and foster youth.

To ensure that LEAs use the new state money as directed, the LCAP was added, requiring districts to engage with parents and community stakeholders on spending decisions and report how the money is being used in support of the state’s educational priorities.

State law mandates that LEAs adopt an LCAP along with their budget before the end of the fiscal year, which was done for the first time last summer.

The state board is required to develop a set of evaluation measures or rubrics that will be used to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the LCAPs. The board has until October to complete that work.

Because the whole system is new, serious intervention efforts are not likely to be undertaken before 2018. But once the evaluation rubrics are in place, county offices of education stand as the first arbiter of a district’s LCAP status.

If a county superintendent determines that a district isn’t measuring up to its LCAP goals and intervention is needed, it is the CCEE that they would turn to for help.

State law provides authority to the CCEE to hire individuals or agencies with the technical expertise to help struggling districts.

Just to get things going, the panel has a proposed budget through June of almost $190,000.

The collaborative has yet to name a chair but state schools chief Tom Torlakson, as a member of the governing board, is expected to fully participate.

Sue Burr, a member of the California State Board of Education, will represent that body on the panel while Sandra Thorstenson, superintendent of the Whittier Union High School District, was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Michael Watkins, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools, is representing state Senate Leader Kevin DeLeon, D- Los Angeles, while Tim Sbranti, a former mayor of Dublin and a coach and administrator in the Dublin Unified School District, represents Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.