Letters on Intelligent Accountability

All kids, regardless of race, family income or ZIP code, need to meet rigorous academic standards, essential to succeed in college and the workforce of the 21st century. We need to honestly measure progress of all subgroups of students towards achieving this goal. And we need to know how students are performing compared to students with similar backgrounds in other schools to understand how to best help all kids succeed.  Then we need to put that information to good use. EdVoice works to transform accountability from excessive focus on inputs to holding local schools accountable for results—the achievement of all students. 

 Shortening   Statewide   Assessments 

September 3, 2021 - State Board of Education

EdVoice recommends the Board reject the proposed blueprint and request other options be presented to reduce test taking time. Losing key summative data makes it more difficult to gauge performance on key standards, and more difficult to tackle equity of opportunity and identify achievement gaps across subgroups. This is not a wise balance of testing time with actionable data for teachers and parents. There are other ways to balance testing time and item constructs to collect meaningful summative data. The proposed blueprint will likely force LEAs into redundant summative testing at the end of the year when loss of instructional time is of greatest concern. Lack of comparable data could also delay the implementation of the Student Growth Model.

 Releasing Statewide   Assessment Data 

July 9, 2021 - State Board of Education

To understand the impact of the pandemic on student learning, identify the depth of student learning loss, and understand how learning loss has impacted achievement gaps, assessment results need to be provided in a way that allows for comparisons, even if those comparisons aren’t perfect. Obviously the 2020-21 school year was very different than past school years, but that is part of the point for why public assessment information is necessary. It not yet clear whether the CDE plan to release CAASPP data this fall for the districts that administer the test this year. The SARC may be the only assessment information that is publicly reported this year, and better information from those tests is necessary.

 Transparency on   Student Growth   Model 

May 7, 2021 - State Board of Education

While EdVoice appreciates the work being done by the California Department of Education to join the 48 other states who track student growth, we are concerned that the growth model scores will be difficult to interpret for parents and teachers alike. Data is important, but ensuring stakeholders truly comprehend the meaning of those numbers is equally important. EdVoice strongly urges the Board to direct CDE staff to develop a process to calculate and provide percentile rankings for growth model scores to help educators, students, parents and other stakeholders more easily understand and attach meaning to the data.

 Equitable Access to   COVID-19   Educational   Opportunities

February 22, 2021 - Senate Budget Committee 

The undersigned members of the Equity Coalition are calling on policymakers to stand up for California’s
students, especially our low- income students, English Learners, foster youth, homeless youth, juvenile
justice involved youth and special education students. Speed is of the essence—the longer we wait, the more likely it is children will experience profoundly negative, potentially life altering implications—and we must follow the science. The CDC has made it clear that schools can be effectively reopened with safety precautions in place. It is unconscionable that some students, in neighboring public and private schools, predominately in higher income areas, are getting access to these essential supports and the children who have already faced historical barriers and who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are systematically being left behind.

 Comprehensive   Support and   Improvement (CSI)   Plans 

January 8, 2021 - State Board of Education 

Our coalition strongly urges the Board to direct the department to conduct a more comprehensive review of the 2020-21 Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) plans to ensure California meets the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed into law by President Obama. We would like to see the Board direct the department to pursue a more thorough review of CSI plans, and to also administratively strengthen the guidance to the COEs to use in their approval process for this portion of the LCAPs. If necessary, the department and the board should pursue a legislative budget change proposal to redirect state set aside funds to ensure that this important oversight and analysis actually takes place.

 LCAP Addenda for   ESSA 

September 4, 2020 - State Board of Education 

EdVoice strongly urges the Board to refrain from approving LEA addenda. We believe it is improper to condone CDE staff passively allowing LEAs to obfuscate stakeholder engagement and recommend approval without verifying that CDE guidance was followed by each LEA in order to be accountable to address the needs of disadvantaged students and English learners. EdVoice urges the Board to request how staff reviewed the plans and why  LEAs are recommended for approval when they are providing inaccurate information to the federal government.

 Updating the State   Audit Guide 

August 4, 2020 - State Controller 

We write this letter to identify specific areas where the Audit Guide can monitor the educational programs that schools and districts are providing to ensure that specific required expectations are met. Specifically, SB 98 (Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) requires the Controller to amend the school Audit Guide to enforce a new “part” of the Education Code (EC) which provides school finance and accountability for the 2020-21 school year.

 Minimum Daily   Synchronous   Instructional Time   Expectations 

July 2, 2020 - State Board of Education

The Learning Continuity Plan Template should ensure that distance learning plans explicitly describe minimum daily synchronous instructional time expectations. In Item 2, the Board will be receiving a legislative update on the education budget trailer bill (SB 98), which includes a new district planning requirement to substitute for the existing LCAP for the 2020-21 school year. SB 98 requires a Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan template for use by districts to be developed by the SPI in consultation by the Board by August 1, 2020, and requires “distance learning” to include “daily live interaction with certificated employees and peers for the purposes of instruction, progress monitoring, and maintaining school connectedness” (Ed Code Section 43503(b)(6)).

 Accountability and   Continuous   Improvement System 

May 1, 2020 - State Board of Education

We write to request that you reject the proposed 5x5 grid stabilization methodology in Item 2 because it would ignore and therefore reinforce known structural inequities, lacks continuity, and would act to reduce investments that provide critical assistance for continuous improvement in schools that have been rated red and orange for years. The proposed matrix artificially elevates outcomes and disqualifies districts and schools recently (pre-COVID-19) identified as eligible for technical assistance to improve equity of opportunity for tens of thousands of students.

 Incorporating Growth   Data and the CA   Dashboard 

March 6, 2020 - State Board of Education

Schools, teachers, and stakeholders have waited two decades for such a model, and it is long overdue. Incorporating a growth model on the Dashboard will help focus LCAP development on student progress, consistent with California’s philosophy of continuous improvement. Because the cornerstone of public education is to equitably promote increased student learning for all students every school year, including a growth measure on the Dashboard is a transparent and more accurate approach to reflect students’ progress in each school and district.

 Student Growth   Model 

February 5, 2020 - Assembly Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance

In the spirit of California’s system of support and Governor Newsom’s commitment to a longitudinal data system ensuring all programs work for well for California’s kids, we write to request that the subcommittee include an item in its oversight budget hearings on the California Department of Education (CDE) regarding a student-level growth model. To accelerate the development and implementation of a statewide student-level growth model to better measure Local Education Agency (LEA) and school academic performance, we recommend the subcommittee adopt an item and related budget bill language directing the CDE to partner with an LEA to access Proposition 98 dollars and get underway as soon as possible.

 Functioning   Formative   Assessment Tools 

May 3, 2019 - Assembly Appropriations Committee - AB 908 - Support

EdVoice is in support of AB 908, which clarifies that a robust item bank of actual test items is a necessary component of functioning formative assessment tools. AB 908 makes good on a key promise to all California teachers six years ago when the legislature enacted the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). AB 908 is teacher and student friendly by explicitly specifiying that a bank of test items is necessary to operationalize the usefulness of state-provided formative assessment tools.

 Functioning   Formative   Assessment Tools 

April 12, 2019 - Assembly Education Committee - AB 908 - Support

EdVoice is in support of AB 908, which clarifies that a robust item bank of actual test items is a necessary component of functioning formative assessment tools. AB 908 makes good on a key promise to all California teachers six years ago when the legislature enacted the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). AB 908 is teacher and student friendly by explicitly specifiying that a bank of test items is necessary to operationalize the usefulness of state-provided formative assessment tools.

 Transparency of Pupil   Achievement   Measures 

April 2, 2019 - Assembly Education Committee - AB 1240 - Support

EdVoice is in support of AB 1240, which would require increased transparency of pupil achievement measures in school districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs). By requiring the separate reporting of the percentage of pupils who successfully complete courses that satisfy entry requirements to UC and CSU and the percentage of pupils who have successfully completed CTE sequences or programs, AB 1240 can help provide a clearer picture of how well public schools are serving students in achieving the stated goals of college and career readiness.

 P-20 Statewide   Longitudinal Student   Database 

March 29, 2019 - Senate Education Committee - SB 2 - Support If Amended

SB 2 would establish a commission to develop a plan for a P-20 Statewide Longitudinal Student Database. California’s low-income 4th graders rank 50th in the country in math. But not every public school is failing. Accordingly, comprehensive data is absolutely necessary for policymakers at the local and state level to learn what is working and how to replicate success, where it exists, at scale. And it is needed before high-school. EdVoice is strongly supportive of improved systems of transparency that can help shine a light on the effectiveness of successful P-20 education programs as well as the systemic inequities in California’s public education system. However, at this time, SB 2 does not explicitly include reference to necessary and available data critical for that effort. And, California already pays for very relevant program
information on early education and K-8 outcomes.

 Statewide Pupil   Longitudinal Database 

March 26, 2019 - Assembly Education Committee - AB 1466 - Support If Amended

AB 1466 which would require the Governor to convene a task force regarding the establishment of a statewide pupil longitudinal database. California’s low-income 4th graders rank 50th in the country in math. But not every public school is failing. Accordingly, comprehensive data is absolutely necessary (and is needed before high school) for policymakers at the local and state level to learn what is working and how to replicate success, where it exists, at scale. EdVoice is strongly supportive of improved systems of transparency that can help shine a light on the effectiveness of successful P-20 education programs as well as the systemic inequities in California’s public education system. However, at this time, AB 1466 does not explicitly include reference to necessary and available data critical for that effort. And, California already pays for very relevant program information on early education and K-8 outcomes.

 Transparency on   School Improvement   and Student Data 

March 8, 2019 - State Board of Education

Our coalition believes the Dashboard should include an indication of schools that have been identified under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for support and improvement. That would include CSI, TSI and ATSI schools. This identification is necessary to align with both the stated goals of transparency and improvement under ESSA as well as under the Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, we encourage the state’s adoption of a growth model and its incorporation into the Dashboard. Under ESSA, 48 states and the District of Columbia all report and measure individual student growth. This data will provide families, students, communities and policymakers in those states valuable information about school quality and student academic achievement. California, along with Kansas, has chosen not to.

 Accountability for   English Learners 

January 4, 2019 - State Board of Education

While almost a third of California students are English learners at some point in their education, and often these students face some of the greatest educational needs, the current accountability system appears to lack adequate focus on this important subgroup in terms of the measurement of outcomes, the focus of districts on this subgroup and the supports that are provided to districts and schools identified for assistance. This lack of focus stems directly from the accountability indicators the state is using (and not using) and the fact that the indicators are driving the focus of district’s planning and support work. Despite the widely-acknowledged needs of this subgroup of students, for example, it seems odd that only 59 districts are receiving Level 2 assistance for their EL subgroups. We believe that a greater sensitivity and focus on English learner subgroup performance is called for in the State’s accountability system and that this could be addressed by including the two strongest indicators of the quality of a district’s EL program in the Dashboard.

 Transparency of the   School Accountability   Report Card (SARC) 

June 26, 2018 - Senate Education Committee - AB 3096 - Oppose

We represent a collection of educational equity, civil rights and community based organizations and are opposed to AB 3096, which would seriously alter usefulness of the School Accountability Report Card (SARC). Under the guise of “streamlining,” this bill would actually obscure and diminish essential information currently available on the SARC for parents, families, and community stakeholders including crucial information required by the Williams v. California lawsuit.

 Protections for   Migrant Students 

May 17, 2018 - Senate Education Committee - AB 1661 - Oppose

AB 1661 would eliminate minimum protections that ensure migrant children have effective educational opportunity during the summer months, which are critical in making up lost time for other parts of the school year they are not attending classes. In many places in California, depending on the local crop or industry, summer is an important time of year to reach migrant children and make up for lost instructional time resulting from the transiency of their families. California has long acknowledged the importance of protecting its migrant children above and beyond the provisions of federal law.

 Meeting ESSA Data   Requirements 

April 6, 2018 - State Board of Education

We write again to comment on California’s ESSA plan. Although this plan and California’s new system of accountability have been under development for over 30 months, they still fall short of the law’s intention to “provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps,” (Section 1001).

 Meeting ESSA Data   Requirements 

January 1, 2018 - State Board of Education 

We write to comment on California’s ESSA plan and proposed meaningless responses. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) sent feedback describing California’s failure to comply with the law, signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. The analysis by ED reiterated multiple concerns that EdVoice has previously identified. However, to date, the response by the California Department of Education (CDE) has not produced any meaningful changes.

 Transparency of  CA   Dashboard Data 

November 3, 2017 - State Board of Education

We write in response to agenda item 3, which recommends new color designations for the five-by-five Academic Indicator grid as a direct response to the latest release of Smarter Balanced test scores. We oppose the policy of responding to disappointing test results and huge achievement gaps by lowering the bar. This is a dangerous precedent and undermines any confidence the public may have in the LCAP scheme to help improve schools, improve equity of opportunity and educational outcomes. EdVoice urges the Board to reject the recommendation to shift the colors and lower academic expectations of schools and districts in the state’s accountability system.