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State Board of Education Responsibilities - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

The State Board of Education (SBE) was established first by statute in 1852, then by amendment to the California Constitution in 1884. Both the Constitution and statutes  set forth the SBE’s duties. Constitutional duties of the SBE include the appointment  of one deputy and three associate superintendents upon nomination of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) and the adoption of textbooks for use in grades one through eight.

By statute, the SBE is the governing and policy-making body of the CDE. The Constitution and statute also assign the SBE a variety of other responsibilities:


The SBE adopts rules and regulations for its own government, the government of its appointees, and government of the state’s public schools.


The SBE has approved rigorous statewide academic standards for content and student performance in English–language arts, history-social science, mathematics, science, visual and performing arts, and physical education.

Curriculum Frameworks

The SBE adopts curriculum frameworks in reading/language arts, foreign language, history-social science, health, mathematics, physical education, science, and the visual and performing arts. These frameworks are based on previously approved academic standards. In 2007, the SBE also adopted a curriculum framework for career technical education. The frameworks inform and guide the local development and implementation of specific curricula for kindergarten through high school students and serve as the basis for the adoption of instructional materials.

Instructional Materials

The SBE adopts instructional materials for kindergarten through grade eight (K–8) in reading/language arts, foreign language, mathematics, science, history-social science, health, and visual and performing arts. The state provides special funding each year to local educational agencies for the purchase of SBE-adopted instructional materials for grades K–8 and locally adopted instructional materials for grades nine through twelve.


The SBE considers requests from local educational agencies to waive statutory and regulatory requirements.


The SBE adopts tests and sets policies for the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and the California High School Exit Examination. The initial California Legislation authorizing the STAR Program was signed into law in 1997. Since that authorization, SBE has designated achievement tests; adopted regulations for STAR; approved and monitored the development of the California Standards Tests (CSTs), the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), California Modified Assessment (CMA), and the Standards Test in Spanish (STS); and adopted performance level minimums for each of these assessments since 2003. The SBE also established the test administration window for the STAR Program and approved the state’s physical performance test, which is administered to students in grades five, seven, and nine.

District Reorganization

The SBE reviews and acts on petitions to unify and reorganize school districts by determining whether the petitions meet statutorily established criteria. Upon approval, the SBE sets the area in which local elections on petitions will be held.

Charter Schools

The SBE assigns numbers to petitions to establish charter schools under the Charter Schools Act of 1992. Subject to certain conditions and limitations, charter petitions may be submitted as an appeal following district and county denials. All-charter district petitions are submitted directly to the SBE and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who have joint approval authority. In addition, the SBE has the authority to approve statewide benefit charter schools that operate at multiple locations throughout the state. As a charter authorizer, the SBE has monitoring and accountability responsibilities for the schools and all-charter districts it approves. The SBE also considers appeals of decisions made by local educational agencies to revoke a charter school’s operating petition.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

State statute officially designates the SBE as the State Educational Agency (SEA) for federally funded education programs, including NCLB. The SEA has the primary responsibility for overseeing the state’s full compliance with complex provisions of federal law, which includes establishing an assessment and accountability system to demonstrate that all students are making adequate yearly progress towards proficiency in English–language arts and mathematics; ensuring that all English learners become proficient in English and reach high academic standards; establishing a plan for all core subject area teachers to meet the “highly qualified teacher” provisions; ensuring that all students will be educated in environments that are safe, drug-free, and conducive to learning; and adopting the goal of all students graduating from high school.

Funding Allocations

As prescribed by state and federal law, the SBE approves allocation of certain state and federal funding sources.

Study and Planning

The SBE is authorized to study the educational conditions and needs of the state and plan improvement of the administration and efficiency of public schools. When authorized by statute, the SBE approves certain program plans for CDE.

Ten of the SBE’s 11 members are appointed by the Governor to four-year, staggered terms that are subject to confirmation by a two-thirds vote of the Senate within one year of appointment. The eleventh member, also appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation, is a California public high school student who serves a one-year term. The student member enjoys full voting rights and all other rights and privileges of SBE membership.

Questions: State Board of Education | 916-319-0827 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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