IT’S LCAP SEASON. PLANNING ON DOING IT RIGHT THIS TIME AROUND?
This article is one in a series of articles on strategic planning. It is a follow-up to my 11/4/18 blog, Is Your LCAP a Compliance Document.
I’ve come across scores of optimistic people who, like me, are excited about the future of education in the post-Brown era in California. The primary reason is Governor Newsom’s stated commitment to provide more resources for children and young people in California’s most marginalized communities. He is resolute in his conviction that a state budget should be a declaration of values. He made his values clear.
Now it's time for education leaders throughout the state to support the Governor’s vision by crafting value-driven Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) that drive school districts to make educational decisions that achieve equitable outcomes.
After all, when Governor Jerry Brown dramatically reformed school funding in 2013, the purpose of the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and its companion LCAP was to close opportunity and achievement gaps.
It’s an opportunity for a fresh start for the multitude of districts who were caught up in the state’s complicated and needless requirements for excessive detail in the original LCAP, reducing the effort to compliance, the enemy of continuous school improvement. The second iteration of the California School Dashboard, although more mobile-device friendly, is unfortunately still designed to compare schools and identify schools targeted for assistance.
The punitive nature of its design is also the enemy of continuous school improvement. Reminiscent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), districts are driven to sacrifice building capacity, the cornerstone of continuous school improvement, for compliance.
A district’s goals and its progress towards meeting them is what the Dashboard should be designed to identify. If the LCAP (and the accountability system it is connected to) is to be leveraged to support districts’ visions and outcomes for student learning, it must focus districts on a few primary goals, based on reliable data sets culled to a granular level. The key strategies shouldn’t target student learning. They should target teacher learning by building the capacity to close learning gaps, from the bottom up, to support student success at scale.
The “strategic” part of the LCAP should illustrate how the “Plan” will help a district achieve clearly focused and transparent learning goals and how they intend to measure them. Moving beyond compliance and into strategic planning is the key to making the LCAP much more than a compliance document and an annual exercise that districts add to their "To Do" lists.