Focus on Education: Spring 2017 - Accountability and Funding

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A new tool to gauge performance is the latest step in a comprehensive effort to reinvent the way schools are evaluated and financed in California. In the newest edition of VCOE's Focus on Education, find out how years of reform and innovation are coming together to build a public education system that better serves all of our students. Read it on your computer below or click here to view on your mobile device.



Spring 2017
Stanley C. Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools
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Building an Educational System that Works for All Students
In March, the state made big news by launching a public preview of its new school accountability tool. Known as the California School Dashboard, it gives parents and educators more insight into school performance by looking at factors that go beyond test scores. What you may not know is that the Dashboard is the latest step in a comprehensive effort to reinvent education funding and accountability in California that's been underway for the past several years.
It began in 2010 with the adoption of new state standards that place a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills. The next major milestone came in 2013 when the state dramatically overhauled its education funding system to give local districts more control over their resources. At the same time, the state began requiring school districts to create detailed plans that spell out their goals and funding priorities. In 2015 came a new state testing system aligned with the changing approach to teaching. And now the Dashboard provides a way to see what's working and what needs attention in a variety of areas.
The goal of all these initiatives is to ensure that every student, regardless of their address or family background, receives a quality education that prepares them for college and the job market. In this edition of Focus on Education, we take a closer look at the pieces of the puzzle that are coming together to make that goal a reality.

Stan Mantooth 
Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

Local Districts Gain More Control Over Spending
Attribution_ In 2013 the state of California made a dramatic change in the way schools are funded. Instead of dictating how school districts spend their money, the state shifted much of that decision-making power to the local level. The new system, called the Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF, is designed to funnel education dollars where they're needed most. It's also meant to reduce the achievement gap by directing additional resources to schools that serve students with the greatest needs.
Misty Key, VCOE Associate Superintendent for Fiscal and Administrative Services
In the four years since the LCFF was adopted, Ventura County schools have seen tangible benefits. "We're definitely seeing a positive impact at the local level," says Misty Key, the Ventura County Office of Education's Associate Superintendent for Fiscal and Administrative Services. "Many new positions have been filled, there has been an increase in the services offered to students and counselors are back on many campuses." 
A recent study by The Education Trust-West - a California nonprofit that works to expand educational opportunity - reports that the LCFF is achieving its purpose by providing more funding to districts with the most low-income students. But the study also found that some districts throughout the state need to do a better job transforming that funding into student services. 
Once the LCFF is fully implemented in 2021, the state will have increased education funding by $20 billion. The Ventura County Office of Education plays a role in ensuring that districts are putting the money to good use. VCOE monitors districts' spending and student achievement to see if their programs are getting results. If not, VCOE suggests different approaches and provides training to assist districts in boosting achievement. The goals is to help them overcome problems so they can provide the best education possible to all of their students.
Get to Know the LCAP: Your District's Road Map for the Future
You may be surprised to learn that your school district has a detailed written plan stating its goals for students, explaining how they will be achieved and how progress will be measured. It's called the Local Control and Accountability Plan or LCAP, and the state requires school districts to create one every three years and update it annually. The LCAP addresses the needs of all students, including English learners, foster youth and low-income students. Every district plan must cover these eight state priorities:   
  1. Basic Services
  2. Implementation of State Standards
  3. Parent Involvement
  4. Student Achievement
  5. Student Engagement
  6. School Climate
  7. Course Access
  8. Student Outcomes
Stakeholder input is a key ingredient in the creation of the LCAP. Districts hold community meetings and conduct surveys to discover what's important to parents, educators and the community at large. To find out how you can help influence the process by sharing your views, contact your district office.
Districts are currently working on their LCAPs for the 2017-18 school year. Each of their LCAPs will be publicly reviewed in late spring at two regularly scheduled district board meetings. Once approved by their boards, the district plans will be reviewed by the Ventura County Office of Education to ensure they meet state requirements. The LCAPs will be posted on the VCOE website early in the fall. The 2017-18 LCAPs will feature an improved format that makes it easier to see the key points at a glance. In the meantime, you can access a copy of your district's LCAP for the current school year.
VCOE creates its own LCAP for our schools that serve students with special needs and our court and community students. The VCOE LCAP also addresses issues regarding foster youth and expelled students. We value your participation and invite you to take our brief LCAP survey so you can have a voice in setting priorities for the next school year. 
Student Testing Aligned to California State Standards

This spring, Ventura County students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11 are taking a computer-based test that gauges their knowledge of math and English language arts/literacy. It's called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress or CAASPP and it's now in its third year.
Also known as "Smarter Balanced," the test is designed to reflect ongoing changes in the way students are learning. In 2010, California adopted more rigorous standards that give students the skills they will need to be successful in college and the in the workplace. They increase the emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical writing. The new tests reveal how well students are learning those skills.
Every student receives an individual report on their scores which is mailed home during the summer. The report shows whether students met state standards in math and English language arts and displays the student's progress from the prior year. It also breaks down the student's performance in specific areas such as reading, writing and math concepts and procedures.
Last year, Ventura County student test scores improved for both math and English language arts and the county scores exceeded the state average. You can view scores for individual schools and your local district at this website.
California is also leading the nation in modernizing science education and testing. The state has adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that emphasize hands-on learning and teach how science relates to other subjects. Nearly all Ventura County school districts have begun the transition to the NGSS and California schools are now piloting a test that's based on the new standards. 
New Accountability Tool Highlights Successes and Opportunities
The newest component of California's plan to continuously improve public education arrived in March. Now available online as a public preview, the California School Dashboard is a new way to assess school performance. It replaces the old Academic Performance Index (API), which relied solely on test scores to evaluate schools. In addition to looking at test scores, the Dashboard provides data about other important measures of performance. These include graduation rate, suspension rate, English learner progress and college/career readiness. Here are the state and local performance indicators that will be available in the Dashboard once it's fully implemented:
State Indicators
  • Academic Indicator - based on CAASPP test scores
  • English Learner Progress
  • Graduation Rate
  • Suspension Rate
  • Chronic Absenteeism*
  • College/Career Readiness*
* Data for these indicators is not yet available.
Local Indicators
  • Basic Services
  • Implementation of State Academic Standards
  • Parent Engagement
  • School Climate
The Dashboard uses color-coded pie pieces to make it easy to see how a school did on the various state indicators. It also breaks down performance by ethnicity and other subgroups including English learners, foster youth and socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
By placing a greater focus on progress over time, the Dashboard highlights programs that are making positive change and allows schools and districts to learn from each other's success. It will also make it easier to identify areas where schools need assistance to improve performance.
Visit the California School Dashboard website to see results for your school or district.
Upcoming Events
The Ventura County Office of Education offers an extensive lineup of professional learning events. Get more information and register online using the links below or browse our complete events calendar.
April 25
Sarah Brown Wessling presents Teach Our Kids
May 4
VC Innovates Pathfinder Awards
May 10
IMPACT II Teacher Recognition Dinner
May 15
Trudy Arriaga presents Shared Vision
May 16
Zaretta Hammond presents Culturally Responsive Teaching
May 25
Kristen Anderson presents Visible Learning
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We welcome your questions or comments. Please email them to Ventura County Office of Education Communications Manager Dave Schermer.