By Theresa Harrington
Friday, July 18th, 2014 at 3:59 pm in Education.
Many school district officials are breathing sighs of relief this summer, after completing plans for the next three years that show how they will spend state money to benefit students.
The process was arduous and confusing to some, as they waited for details from the state Board of Education about how the plans should be created and what they should include.
Districts were supposed to ask parents, students and community members what their priorities were and to craft their plans based on the feedback they received. They were required to respond to comments and questions from the public in their final plans.
How well this process worked varied from one district to another. Some held community meetings, some created special advisory committees and a few wrote their own draft plans before ever meeting with parents or other stakeholders.
Now that the plans are done, the public can review them to determine whether they truly meet the needs of local students. Ultimately, the money is expected to improve student achievement, as well as school environments.
Local communities can hold districts accountable for following through on their promises by reading the plans on their district websites or comparing them to others on a site created by the nonprofit student advocacy group Education Trust-West in conjunction with more than 30 other organizations.
Called LCAP Watch, the site aims to compile every Local Control Accountability Plan in the state from 1,000 districts. Launched earlier this month, it can be found at http://lcapwatch.org.
You can review your district’s goals, planned actions and expenditures and find out how progress will be measured. After the next school year, districts must report how their actions have improved student outcomes, as part of requirements established under the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF.
“Under LCFF, parents play an important role in deciding how their district spends state funds to serve all students, especially those who are low income, English learners, and foster youth,” said Valerie Cuevas, Interim Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, in a news release. “Every parent in California must have access to their district LCAP if LCFF is going to live up to its promise and full potential for our students.”
The site includes hundreds of LCAPs, including drafts and final versions. But Education Trust-West hopes to expand the database through crowd sourcing.
Visitors can see existing plans or add plans that have not yet been uploaded. These will be confirmed, then posted by an administrator.
The website also includes additional resources offering best practices for addressing state priority areas, including school climate and student engagement.
“We encourage parents, educators, and community stakeholders to view and share LCAPs,” said Carrie Hahnel, Director of Research and Policy Analysis at Education Trust-West. “We also urge them to engage with their local school districts to monitor and improve the plans over time as a way to ensure their schools meet the needs of all students.”
How does your plan compare to others in the state?