Legislature funds intervention, now comes the hard part

Legislature funds intervention, now comes the hard part

(Calif.) Earlier this summer, legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to shower the education bureaucracy with tens of millions of dollars to shore up the state’s intervention program for struggling districts.

Now, the California State Board of Education begins its work in earnest on plans for using that money to support instructional services in the nearly 30 percent of the K-12 districts known to be poorly performing.

Along with new curriculum, new assessments and a new method for measuring how schools are doing, California schools are also having to adjust to a new intervention program.

The basic theme, promulgated with the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula in 2013, provides three levels of support:

  • Voluntary: all districts have access to state-sponsored training, conferences and other resources aimed at school capacity and student performance;
  • County: All County Offices of Education are required to give customized assistance to any district that meets eligibility standards based on student group performance on the state’s new multiple measure dashboard; and
  • State: Districts that still have not improved after working with their counties can be referred to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for more aggressive intervention.

As part of the budget signed in June, lawmakers earmarked a significant amount to help carry out this mission, including:

  • $58.8 million for county offices of education to assist districts in their jurisdiction;
  • $11.5 million to the California Collaborative for Education Excellence, or CCEE, which is the state agency formed to help with all three levels of district intervention;
  • $4 million to support regional programs;
  • $13.3 million for the identification and establishment of “expert lead agencies;”
  • $10 million for support specifically intended to help students with disabilities;
  • $11 million for a math initiative; and
  • $15 million to improve school response to campus climate issues, including behavioral problems.

The SBE will consider the budget allocations and what needs to be done next at its regular September meeting.

As described by staff from the California Department of Education in a memo to the board, the budget only begins to “frame and provide clarity” about the roles and responsibilities of those agencies engaged in the intervention process. It will be the board’s duty to further refine those roles and provide guidance.

There will not be a lot of time.

Under California’s plan approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education earlier this summer for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the state will begin formally identifying schools that need help for the first time.

As proposed in the ESSA plan, the SBE will release its list of “targeted support” schools in January.

ESSA requires states to identify schools that might need different types of support including:

  1. At least the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools;
  2. High schools with graduation rates below 67 percent; and
  3. Schools with “consistently underperforming” student groups.

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