State identifies ‘low-performing’ schools that will receive Title I funds
The California Department of Education released a list of 781 “low-performing” schools in January, meeting a requirement to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The schools will receive about $160,000 in Title I federal aid each year, according to the CDE. About 80 percent of identified schools are in districts which also receive state assistance by way of California School Dashboard measures showing low-performing student groups.

The state similarly used Dashboard indicator data to select those identified for federal aid under ESSA: The lowest-performing 7 percent of schools receiving Title I funds (accounting for 481 schools) and all high schools with a graduation rate of less than 67 percent, as averaged over two years (accounting for the other 300 schools on the 781-school list). Additional information on the criteria and the full list of eligible schools is available on the CDE website at https://bit.ly/2MZgSFe, which is also where further details on funding and technical assistance can be found.

Aligning with the state’s shift from punitive actions to continuous improvement, parents will not receive a letter notifying them about a school’s low performance, as they did in the past. Additionally, in contrast to No Child Left Behind, efforts to improve schools will be based on a foundation of local control and decision-making rather than interventions and mandates from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.

The federal rules also mean new responsibilities for school districts through the Local Control Accountability Plan process. Districts with schools identified for federal aid must now verify that each school includes a comprehensive plan of how it identifies, examines and addresses weaknesses and needs to improve student outcomes. The State Board of Education adopted the change to the LCAP template at its Jan. 9-10 meeting.

At a February meeting of the State Board California Practitioners Advisory Group, CDE staff said the department will be providing more clarity and resources about the difference between ESSA and state assistance in the near future. Administrators and district officials, they said, have asked for the information on how all the pieces fit into the state’s new System of Support and accountability system.