LCAP not API to serve as school performance monitor

LCAP not API to serve as school performance monitor

(Calif.) In a subtle but significant policy shift, state education officials acknowledged publicly Wednesday that the focal point for measuring school performance going forward will be the Local Control Accountability Plan and not the Annual Performance Index.

The API, based solely on test scores, has stood since 1999 as the primary matrix for communicating school success. That system was suspended last year as schools transitioned to the Common Core State Standards, new curriculum and a new assessment program.

But staff from the California Department of Education noted Wednesday that the Brown administration’s long-standing interest in making the API a subset of the broader and more robust measures being contemplated for the LCAP seem to have formally taken hold.

At the regular July meeting of the California State Board of Education, officials said a nearly three-year effort to find new, non-test-based measures of student accountability to add to the API has been put on hold so that the board can concentrate on defining the major accountability components of the LCAP.

“We had a number of these similar conversations moving forward,” CDE’s Keric Ashley told state board members Wednesday, referring to meetings of the Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee – a group of education experts charged in 2012 with making recommendations for changes to the API.

“We’ve actually slowed down the number of meetings of PSAA in order to allow kind of a single conversation to happen in this body before gathering together PSAA for the superintendent’s recommendations,” Ashley said.

The pronouncement comes as the board continues the daunting task of choosing indicators aligned to the LCAP’s eight state education priorities, designed to reveal how well schools are preparing students for success in the college and career world.

LCAPs are required under the Local Control Funding Formula, ushered into law by Brown in 2013. The LCFF provides additional school funding and gives local governing boards greater control over spending decisions. The accountability plans must detail how each LEA plans to use the state funding to meet state goals and improve student outcomes.

Academic performance indicators – generally supported by data collections – will form the basis for a new set of rubrics by which district LCAPs will be evaluated. These individual measurement tools could include information on a wide variety of student activities such as attendance, graduation and college-going rates, school climate factors, levels of course difficulty and school continuity.

Board members, with the help of consultants at  WestEd, are beginning to zero in on a model for the rubrics but determining which and how many indicators to include is still months away. In fact, just last month Brown signed off on a bill extending the rubric adoption deadline by a year to Oct. 1, 2016.

While some board members and student advocacy groups continue to suggest a multitude of school factors that should be included in the accountability system, SBE president Mike Kirst and member Sue Burr – a former education advisor to Brown – have held firm to the promise of the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula: That spending decisions be made at the local level and reporting requirements not be overly burdensome.

“Our job as a policy making body is to say what are the power indicators that are meaningful at the state level that are reasonable to use to compare across LEAs and charters and will set the expectations and targets that will accomplish all of the guiding principles we want around equity, student performance, graduation, etc,” said Burr. “We certainly want to keep faith with what the intent [of the LCFF] was but, again, in my freak-out moment when I saw all of those indicators I had an NCLB nightmare and I just don’t think any of us want to end up there.”