Editor’s Note: CSDC is offering these Coronavirus-19 updates for public viewing, to members and non-members alike, and in front of our usual member’s only “paywall” as a service to the larger charter school community. We hope nonmembers will consider joining CSDC.
Sacramento, CA—On Friday, April 17, California Department of Education (CDE) staff announced likely postponement of the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) submission, expecting deferral of the usual July 1 due date to December 15, 2020. A modified LCAP template will be created for an alternative one-year LCAP. In addition, local education agencies (LEAs) have a new, much abbreviated interim reporting requirement, called the Operations Update, due July 1 of this year only, to provide light reporting on LCAP implementation.
This article outlines what is known about these requirements so far and also summarizes updates on other accountability issues affected by COVID-19 closures from the April 17 State and Federal Program Directors meeting. CSDC anticipates that Governor Newsom will soon issue an executive order to authorize the delay, presumably to be followed by legislative action to implement the related changes.
LCAP Postponed: One-Year Template Due December 15
Due to this year’s highly irregular circumstances, a special one-year LCAP template will be developed for this year only. How much of the usual LCAP elements will be preserved in the one-year template are not yet known. Parameters for development of the one-year template will be determined through the legislative process. Once guidance is available from the legislature, the CDE will engage stakeholder input to determine specifics.
The legislative process and the stakeholder engagement process is likely to follow a familiar playbook of advocacy tug-of-war. On one side, school district advocates fear intensifying fiscal pressures and have concerns about administrative burden at such a demanding time. On the other side, equity advocates want to ensure that Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds generated by “high needs” students actually result in improvements for those students. These advocates view the LCAP as one of few forms of leverage to hold LEAs accountable and are reluctant to see this process loosened. CSDC notes that charter schools are subject to powerful accountability mechanisms that do not apply to non-charter LEAS: unsatisfied parents can disenroll their students, and charter schools can be closed for underperformance of the school or student subgroups.
The three-year LCAP template approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) in January 2020 will likely restart with the 2021-22 LCAP cycle.
New “Operations Update” Due July 1
Instead of submitting an LCAP on July 1, LEAs will be required to develop an Operations Update, a sort of placeholder for the LCAP. Specifics of the Update document are not yet available, but CDE staff indicate that the aim is for LEAs to provide (1) a high-level overview of their implementations of actions in their LCAPs through February 2020 and (2) a description of how COVID-19 closures affected LCAP implementation.
CDE staff emphasized that it is not intended to be a cumbersome requirement. An LEA’s governing board must approve the Operations Update by July 1, 2020, and the LEA must post it on its website. LEAs will not be required to submit the Operations Update with the budget, nor will it need to be approved by the LEA’s respective County Office of Education. The CDE hopes to have the template for the Operations Update posted on the website by May 1, 2020.
Impact of LCAP Postponement on Federal Accountability: The Federal Addendum, SPSA, and CSI Plans
California uses the LCAP for both state accountability purposes and to meet federal mandates to develop local education agency and school plans. LEAs accepting federal “Title” funds are required to have both an approved LCAP and an LCAP Federal Addendum to meet these federal requirements. For most LEAs, their federal addendum adopted in prior years remains on file and in effect. For LEAs that may need to do any sort of update, or for LEAs that are newly implementing federal programs, CDE staff advises contacting the respective CDE federal program office for guidance.
Schools receiving federal funds must also have a School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA). As single school LEAs, many charter schools now use the LCAP as the SPSA, since an “approvable” LCAP – one that meets all statutory and regulatory requirements – also meets SPSA requirements. Charter schools also have the option to use the stand-alone SPSA, which has different requirements, including the need for approval by a School Site Council with a specific constitution of members. Since there is no timeline for a school to approve a SPSA, the deferral of the LCAP should not be a problem for most schools.
Finally, the Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) section of the LCAP is used for those LEAs with schools that are identified as eligible for CSI, a designation of federal accountability. Schools newly identified for CSI or for Additional Targeted Support and Intervention (ATSI) will need to develop and implement a 2020-21 CSI or ATSI plan. CDE staff indicate they are currently working with the SBE and the federal Department of Education (ED) on related timelines and requirements. Schools identified for CSI can view the slides on CSI posted for the April 17 State and Federal Program Directors meeting and can contact the CDE’s School Improvement and Support Office for additional information.
CDE staff has provided a few clarifications about the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC). On March 17, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 117, which included the following, among other provisions related to COVID-19 closures:
On March 27, the ED granted the CDE’s waiver for assessment requirements for the 2019–2020 school year.
Since the waivers apply only to the 2019-20 school year, the CDE is preparing for administration of initial ELPAC assessments at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Due to uncertainties about when school closures will end, the CDE’s testing contractor for the ELPAC is preparing for administration of a paper and pencil version of the Initial ELPAC, with online training for test administrators.
Similarly, the CDE is making alternative plans for reclassification of English Learner students as English proficient. Students who have already completed all four domains of the 2020 Summative ELPAC will be eligible for reclassification. Students who have not taken the Summative ELPAC or have not completed all four domains must take or complete the remaining sections of the Summative ELPAC, likely this July or August. The CDE indicates that students will be tested at their 2019-20 grade level on the Summative ELPAC and will provide additional information as decisions are finalized.
SBAC Interim Assessments Now Available
With the suspension of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) testing this spring, the CDE has opened the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments for local educational agency (LEA) staff to use as part of distance learning during COVID-19 school closures. Through June 30, 2020, teachers will be able to start a test session for students, who can then access the interim assessments on a nonsecure website with either the Chrome or Firefox browser. Find additional information on the April 17 Assessment Spotlight webpage.
For Additional Information
These topics will be addressed in the LEA Coordinator Webinar that will be held on April 21, 2019 at 1:30PM. The CDE posted a slide deck for today’s webinar, which can be viewed here. Registration for the webinar was full at the time of writing. An archive of the presentation will be posted on the CAASPP training website at www.caaspp.org. CSDC will continue to post updates as information becomes available.