Blog | March 26, 2019

Analysis: How Does School Climate Fare in 2018-19 LCAP Plans?

Over the past several years, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids completed analyses of Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) for California’s 50 largest school districts. After reviewing the 2018-19 LCAPS, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids offers the following update:

Increasing commitment to evidence-based practices—but still underspending

Over the years, the percent of districts, including in their Local Control and Accountability Plans) evidence-based practices, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, restorative practices, and social-emotional learning, had increased from 70 percent to 92 percent. In 2018-19, the percentage rose to 100%, as the remaining four districts (Anaheim Union HSD, Chula Vista ESD, Montebello USD, Saddleback Valley USD) that had not included evidence-based practices previously all incorporated them into their latest LCAPs.

Still questions remain about how much funding is actually dedicated to these strategies, because of the tendency to bundle together multiple actions into one expenditure, rendering it impossible to identify the amount actually going to evidence-based strategies.

Moreover, even where the dedicated funding could be estimated, often all the funding budgeted for evidence-based practices is not actually being spent as promised. In fact, out of 24 districts where the amount spent could be calculated, 42 percent (10 of 24) spent at least 10 percent less than was budgeted for evidence-based practices, with several districts underspending by $300,000 for more. Seventeen percent (4 of 24) spent more than the amount budgeted, while another 42 percent (10 of 24) spent the same or close to the funding budgeted. This reflects as slight improvement compared to 2017-18, when just over half spent less than was budgeted for evidence-based practices.

Continued lack of subgroup goals for reducing suspensions

Only 1 district added subgroup goals for reducing suspensions (Kern Union HSD), leaving still just slightly more than half of districts with suspension reduction goals for subgroups, such as African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students. Given that state accountability depends on subgroup performance, districts should set goals for improvement for subgroups to demonstrate their intent, and set a path forward, to improve subgroup performance.

Falling Short on Safety and Connectedness

There was no progress on inclusion of goals on school safety and connectedness, with 10 districts still lacking any goals on these measures, despite being required by the Local Control Funding Formula statute.

Lack of current year data

Only 30 percent of districts, unchanged since 2017-18, included current year data on suspension rates in their 2018-19 LCAPs. Current year data is essential because LCAP updates are intended to assess current year actions and progress towards achieving current year goals. Relying on previous year suspension rates in the California School Dashboard alone does not address whether a district is meeting its current year goals.

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