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Understanding K12 Accountability in California
Part 1

In the State of California, the term Local Education Agency (LEA) is used for School Districts, County Offices of Education, and Charter Schools.  Each LEA has a number of specific legal requirements including making their budgets, reporting their progress to their community, and making an annual plan to improve outcomes for their students. That plan, called the Local Control Accountability Plan or LCAP is a three-year plan built on an LEA’s mission, vision, and goals for students. Together, these guide the overall direction for district programs and operations. 

Each year, the LEA reviews the progress in meeting students’ needs by looking at data and gathering feedback from students, families, staff, and community. That review guides decisions about what the LEA will do to support students and how we spend funds to provide services to all students based on their needs. 

LEAs are required to analyze and use multiple pieces of data about their students as part of the LCAP, as well as parent and staff data, and feedback from their community.  There are some required data elements in the LCAP such as student achievement results, chronic absenteeism, and suspension rates, but LEAs are also able to use other kinds of data to make their plan.

The model below describes the annual cycle of PK-12 data and the LCAP planning process.

Along with the deadline for the LCAPs to be approved, there is also a deadline at the end of February for each LEA to present a “Mid Year” update to their governing board. That presentation in January or February could also be used to present the most recently available data such as student achievement results, graduation rates, attendance rates, suspension rates, English Learner progress, and college/career readiness rates.  

Together, those metrics make up the heart of California’s accountability reporting system called the California School Dashboard.

While data are used annually for the LCAP and budget because of state requirements, many LEAs also use data on a more regular basis to monitor student achievement, behaviors, school climate, etc. 

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