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What is the Local Control Funding Formula?

In 2013 California dramatically decentralized the school finance system, aiming to create a statewide system of local school districts. The Local Control Funding Formula eliminated virtually all categorical programs. School districts were given far more power to make choices about how money is used.

Today, school districts have considerable control over money and how to spend it. 

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) reformed California’s K–12 school finance system. It replaced a patchwork of formulas and specific (or “categorical”) programs with a focus on local control, funding equity, and additional support for the large share of students (63%) who are “high needs”—that is, low-income, English Learner, and/or foster care youth.

LCFF gives districts control over how to spend state funding while requiring them to “increase or improve services” for high-need students in proportion to the increased funding these students generate.

The big idea of LCFF is that schools get money based on the needs of the students they are educating. Districts where there are many “higher need” students get more money to invest in those students.

Here is How LCFF Works

Base Funding: All districts receive a base grant for each student. The base grant is larger for grades 9-12 than for other grade levels.
Supplemental Funding: Districts receive 20% additional funding per student for students with high needs — specifically defined as learning English, in poverty, and/or in foster care.
Concentration Funding: Districts get additional money if more than 55% of children in the district qualify as having high needs. Specifically, the district receives an extra 50%* of the base grant for each high-need student beyond the 55% threshold. For example, a district where 60% of the students are in a high-need category receives 165% of the base for 5% of its students. (* Note: Beginning in 2022-23, the concentration grant was boosted from 50% to 65%.)

Under LCFF, the use of funds is substantially unrestricted, meaning that school districts have a lot of latitude, so long as they spend the supplemental and concentration funds in ways that follow the intent of the law. The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is intended to provide transparency about the actual use of LCFF funds, but the accounting detail in the LCAP is minimal.
An important element of the Local Control Funding Formula is that school districts must engage parents and community to create a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). School districts use the LCAP to formally document their goals and plans, organized into eight priority areas.
LCAPs Based on Eight State Priority Areas and Associated Performance Measures. The legislation enacting LCFF establishes a framework for LCAPs based around goals in eight state priority areas. Statute also directs SBE to address several implementation details, such as developing an LCAP template that all districts must use.

Accountability Model

The current system is intended to give a complete picture of the “health” of a school
Intended to demonstrate how well the system of assessment and accountability are working at the school and district level to produce equitable outcomes for ALL students
Demonstrate the continuous improvement mindset and strategic allocation of financial and human resources

California’s accountability system is based on multiple measures that assess how local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools are meeting the needs of their students. Performance on these measures is reported on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard).

State-Level Indicators

The California School Dashboard reports performance for the following state indicators:

English Learner Progress (Priority 4)
Academics: ELA and Mathematics (Priority 4)
Chronic Absence (Priority 5)
Graduation Rate (Priority 5)
Suspension Rate (Priority 6)
College and Career (Priority 7 & 8)

Local-Level Indicators

The California School Dashboard reports performance for the following local indicators:

Basic Services- Appropriately Credentialed and Assigned Teachers, Access to curriculum-aligned Materials, and Safe, Clean and Functional School Facilities (Priority 1)
Implementation of State Academic Standards (Priority 2)
Parent Engagement (Priority 3)
School Climate (Priority 6)

Additional Information: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/cm/localindicators.asp 

Status Levels

Five levels of current performance, called Status Levels

“Very High” to “Very Low”

Five levels of change in performance between the current and prior year data, called Change Levels

“Increased Significantly” to “Declined Significantly”

Five color-coded Performance Levels are established using a five-by-five color table that combines status and change.

CA Accountability Model: Dashboard

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