Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
The board’s role in approving the School Plan for Student Achievement

Board of education trustees occasionally comment — sometimes in frustration, sometimes with humor — about the ever-present “alphabet soup” that governance teams must acquaint themselves with. Education acronyms are regularly used to identify programs impacting the approximately 6 million students that California local educational agencies serve.

Some acronyms are well known, such as LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan), CDE (California Department of Education), LEA (local educational agency) and ADA (average daily attendance).

But one acronym that may not be top-of-mind — but critically important to serving students and the broader community — is SPSA, or School Plan for Student Achievement. The plan is developed by each district and county office of education’s school site council, reviewed by the superintendent and approved by the board of education. As boards shape the process by which they approve each SPSA, it is vital that they put in place plans designed to address each school’s unique needs based on each school’s unique student population.

Considerations for boards as they prepare to approve SPSAs:

  • How thoroughly does the SPSA describe efforts for involvement with education partners (aka stakeholders)?
  • Are community engagement activities undertaken to provide input into the annual SPSA demonstrably ongoing throughout the year?
  • How do important school site-level advisory organizations (such as English learner advisory committees, student groups or others) provide input for the SPSA?
  • How successfully does the SPSA align proposed spending and projected costs with the core student-serving strategies identified in the plan?
  • Are administrators assigned to collaborate with the school site council, making sure any material changes to an already-approved SPSA are brought back for board approval?
  • Is the SPSA approval item appropriately placed on the agenda of a regular board meeting?

Many LEAs note SPSA approval on their board planning calendar. CSBA provides customized services, assisting districts and county offices of education in developing their own board planning calendar.

District governance calendar: