Paving the Way to Equity and Coherence?
This report seeks to help policymakers and others better understand ways in which LCFF implementation is changing fundamental aspects of resource allocation and governance in California’s K-12 education system. The LCFF provides all districts with base funding plus supplemental and concentration grants for low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. The law eliminated most categorical programs, giving local school systems resource allocation authority and requiring Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) developed with input from parents, community members, students, and educators. The goal is more equitable and coherent resource allocation decisions and improved and more equitable student outcomes.
This report, the third by the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative (LCFFRC), focuses on issues that emerged from our previous research in which we found widespread support for the LCFF as well as significant challenges. Many districts had difficulty fostering meaningful stakeholder engagement. Some found the LCFF and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to be competing policy priorities. Questions remained about how resource allocation decisions were made and if LCFF dollars were reaching targeted populations. Drawing on these findings, this study focuses on four main issues: 1) the extent of meaningful stakeholder engagement in LCAP development, 2) ways LCFF implementation is advancing or challenging CCSS implementation, 3) how resources are allocated, especially to targeted groups, and, 4) the extent to which LCFF planning and implementation advance equity and coherence.
This report is based on eight case studies, seven in traditional districts and one in a charter management organization. Study sites reflected California’s geographic and demographic diversity. To collect data, we conducted 151 interviews with administrators, parents, community members, union leaders, and board members in fall 2016 and examined a range of relevant documents, including LCAPs, district budgets, collectively bargained contracts, strategic plans, and school site plans. While we recognize this study has limitations, including the small number of cases and the timing of the data collection (districts had not yet used the revised LCAP template and the new state accountability system was not fully in place), we believe the research provides important insights into the ongoing implementation of the state’s ambitious new system of finance and governance.