California Educators Fail to Meet Federal Accountability Reporting Standards

The State of California's Department of Education and the State Board of Education must clarify for federal regulators by January 8, 2018 how public schools in California plan to comply with accountability reporting standards. California receives $2.6 billion in federal assistance annually as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act; the state must satisfy federal reporting accountability standards in order to continue obtaining this level of funding. Unless they request and obtain a time extension, the state agencies must set forth a specific plan to correct reporting deficiencies mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Incomplete Accountability Reporting

On December 21, 2017, the United States Department of Education sent a 12-page letter to state officials outlining problems with California's educational accountability reporting system. The federal agency expressed concern the State of California had failed to explain precisely how state agencies would expend billions of dollars in federal funding in order to help schools with low performance records. By law, California must identify the roughly 300 schools falling within the lowest-performing category of low income school districts. California must also clearly indicate student groups with low performance records.

The letter reportedly questioned California's use of a color-coded "dashboard" system for rating performance. Additionally, federal regulators objected to California's failure to explain how the state plans to assist school districts served by unqualified teachers. Other points of contention include the failure to identify high schools which don't graduate at least 67% of students, and the failure to report the English language and Math scores of 11th grade pupils using the same criteria applied to students in other grades. California also completely omitted providing accountability reporting scores for some 800 "alternative schools" serving dropouts, inmates and students expelled from other high schools.

Adhering to State Law

Officials representing the two California state agencies issued a statement on December 22nd thanking the United States Department of Education for its "feedback." The statement acknowledged differences in the interpretation of federal law. It also suggested the accountability reporting standards employed by California in establishing its color-coded dashboard reporting system related to the Local Control Funding Formula, ("the LCFF").

The LCFF, a component of a comprehensive 2013 state public education financing law, went into effect prior to the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The Fordham Institute recently studied state plans for accountability reporting. It criticized California's dashboard-based system.



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