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ROCP Basics

Information, including governance, funding, and accountability, about Regional Occupational Centers and Programs.

As a result of a discussion by the State Board of Education (SBE) at the September 2005 Board meeting, the SBE requested that the California Department of Education (CDE) develop this information memorandum on the organization, funding, and accountability of regional occupational centers and programs (ROCPs).

ROCP Mission and Overview

ROCPs have been a major component of California’s workforce preparation system for the past 35 years. In school year 2003–04, the 74 ROCPs provided 500,137 high school and adult students with valuable career and technical education (CTE). The purpose of ROCP is to prepare students to (1) enter the workforce with the skills and competencies necessary to succeed, (2) pursue advanced training in higher educational institutions, and/or (3) upgrade existing skills and knowledge. ROCP courses are open to all secondary and adult students, but students sixteen to eighteen years in grades eleven and twelve have priority for enrollment. The ROCP delivery system is directly linked to business and industry through advisory committees and provides work-based learning opportunities for students.

ROCPs were established as regional programs or centers to allow students from various schools or districts to attend career technical training programs regardless of the geographic location of their residence in a county or region. Regionalization provides for efficient use of limited resources: students get access to a broad array of training opportunities, expensive technical equipment, and specially trained and experienced instructors.

ROCPs are an important component in the continuum of sequenced CTE courses offered in public secondary schools. The beginning of the continuum may start in the middle school, but most sequences begin in high school. Students are first exposed to exploratory courses to build their awareness and career-related knowledge. These experiences often contribute to a student’s decision to take additional CTE courses or concentrate on a sequenced pathway of interest. High school CTE courses often lead to ROCP courses, which are designed to provide more focused occupational training. Therefore, ROCP courses are typically the more advanced capstone courses that students take during grades eleven and twelve to prepare for entry-level jobs or to make a transition to postsecondary education, technical training, or apprenticeships.

Many ROCP courses are articulated with a local California community college district. ROCPs provide high-quality CTE programs and contribute to students’ academic and career educational achievement, allowing them a smooth entry into the workforce or postsecondary education. ROCP course curricula are state-certified, and students who complete the training receive certificates typically indicating the competencies each student has mastered. Depending on the course, students may also receive industry certification that is recognized regionally, statewide, or nationally.

ROCP Governance

The 74 ROCPs are organized in 3 distinct ways: 42 are county-operated, 26 have joint powers agreements (JPAs), and 6 are single districts.

Each organizational structure of an ROCP has its own characteristics summarized as follows:

  1. County-operated ROCPs
    • The governing board is the county board of education.
    • The teachers may be employed directly by the county or by the participating school districts and then are sent to the ROCP under a contract for a part of or the entire day.
    • Student support services from both the county and participating districts are used by the ROCP.
    • A steering committee made up of representatives from the participating school districts is sometimes used to provide feedback to the county ROCP administration.
  2. JPA ROCPs
    • A JPA is the joint venture of two or more school districts.
    • The JPA governing board is made up of elected representatives from the member school district boards of education.
    • Most of the teachers are hired either directly by the JPA or by the participating school districts and then contracted to the JPA for all or a part of their day.
    • Most of the student support services are delivered by the JPA ROCP; however, some support services may be arranged through the participating school districts.
  3. Single-district ROCPs
    • Only school districts with average daily attendance (a.d.a.) of 50,000 units or more located in class 1 counties and school districts with a.d.a. of 100,000 units or more located in class 2 counties are eligible to become single-district ROCPs.
    • The governing board is made up of the same members as the district board of education.
    • The district employs all the teachers for the ROCP classes.
    • The ROCP uses district support services.

ROCP Funding

ROCPs are funded under Proposition 98 through the annual Budget Act (item 6110-105-0001). The 2005-06 appropriation is $420,674,000. This is a fixed amount that is fully allocated to all ROCPs based on a revenue limit unique to each ROCP and a limit (cap) on the number of a.d.a. units that can be funded in each ROCP. In fiscal year 2003–04, the statewide average ROCP revenue limit was $3,048 per a.d.a., unit, the most recent year with verified annual data. The statewide average revenue limit for 2005–06 is estimated to be $3,121.

Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, ROCPs were funded from local general funds. In addition, many ROCPs utilized voter-approved tax overrides. Subsequent to Proposition 13, the funding mechanism was converted to a revenue limit-based system as it was for school district revenue limits. The basis for the initial revenue limit was the amount of money spent on ROCP in the prior fiscal year. In 1982, a cap on ROCP a.d.a. was instituted based on the number of students served in the prior fiscal year.

In fiscal year 2003–04, seven ROCPs did not make their cap largely because of declining enrollment. The unused a.d.a. amounted to $95,373. The remaining 67 ROCPs exceeded their cap by 8,344 units of a.d.a. The unused funding from those ROCPs under cap was redistributed to those over cap at the rate of $11.43 per a.d.a.

ROPs receive growth funds through the State Budget Act based on the projected growth of enrollment in grades eleven and twelve. The California Education Code prioritizes the allocation of any growth funds appropriated in the Budget Act for ROCPs. First priority resets the ROCP a.d.a. cap to protect against unanticipated one-year drops in a.d.a. When an ROCP’s a.d.a. declines below cap, the process restores the ROCP’s cap if the ROCP a.d.a. increases within a two-year period. In fiscal year 2004–05, the Budget Act appropriated $13,595,000 for ROCP growth, or an increase of 3.67 percent. In fiscal year 2005-06 the Budget Act appropriated $9,337,000 for ROCP growth, or an increase of 2.62 percent.

Second priority is to allocate up to 25 percent of the growth funds to low-participation ROCPs. Low participation occurs when the ROCP a.d.a., calculated as a percent of the participating school district’s grades nine through twelve a.d.a., is smaller than the statewide average. This provision was designed to allow ROCPs to serve more high school students in high-growth areas or those with historically low caps. This provision is operative only when specifically funded in the Budget Act, which has not occurred in recent years.

Third priority is to allocate remaining growth funds to all ROCPs based on a pro rata share of the grades nine through twelve a.d.a. of the school districts served by the ROCP. The vast majority of growth funding is allocated pursuant to this provision. Each ROCP is allocated at least ten units of growth a.d.a.

The Legislature’s intent is for each ROCP to use growth funds for pupils in grades nine through twelve unless the local ROCP governing board determines that the needs of pupils in grades nine through twelve have been met. If the governing board determines those needs have not been met, then the governing board may authorize use of growth funds to serve adults. Recognizing that the smaller rural areas of the state would not produce sufficient revenues to adequately operate an ROCP program under the revenue limit concept, the Legislature instituted a formula-based system known as the necessary small ROCP funding formula (see Attachment 1).

Eligibility under this formula first requires the individual high schools in the ROCP service area to be a necessary small high school (i.e., a.d.a. in grades nine through twelve is 350 or less). Further, the a.d.a. attributable to the ROCP cannot exceed 350 units of a.d.a. in total. In fiscal year 2003–04 seven ROCPs were funded under this statutory provision.

The statute establishes priorities for funding.  First priority for funds appropriated in the Budget Act for ROCP goes to necessary small ROCPs. Second priority is the calculation for ROCP revenue limits. Thus, funding for necessary small ROCPs comes off the top of the statewide appropriation.

The total apportionment for each necessary small ROCP may be composed of (a) only high schools funded under the formula or (b) a combination of formula and revenue limit funding. In either case the total ROCP a.d.a. cannot exceed 350 units of a.d.a. The ROCP a.d.a. is funded only under one or the other methodologies above but not both. The a.d.a. is not double-funded. The revenue limit used is the previously established county ROCP revenue limit or the statewide average, whichever is higher.

Allocations under the formula are based first on the grades nine through twelve a.d.a. at a high school and second on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) certificated ROCP teachers. For example, if a high school in the ROCP service area has 75 units of ROCP a.d.a. they must have at least 0.83 FTE teachers to be allocated $49,837. The allocation is prorated if the number of FTE teachers is less than the required number.

ROCPs also receive funding under the adult portion of the federal Carl D. Perkins Act grant Section 132. Adult education and California community colleges are also funded under this section to serve adults. School districts receive funding for all secondary students, including those served by the ROCP. In fiscal year 2004–05, 50 ROCPs received a total of $8.1 million from the $62.3 million available under Section 132 with the remaining $54.2 million allocated to adult education and California community colleges. The remaining 24 ROCPs did not apply for these funds.

ROCP Impact on Student Achievement and Success

A study conducted by the University of California (UC) in 2004 on the effectiveness of ROCP programs arrived at some noteworthy conclusions. This study compared ROCP students in 21 ROCPs throughout the state to a control group of similar high school students not enrolled in ROCP programs. The following is a summary of the findings:

  • ROCP students improved their high school grade point averages.
  • ROCP students had better twelfth grade attendance rates.
  • ROCP students enrolled in postsecondary education in large numbers.
  • ROCP students preferred ROCP classes to other subjects.
  • ROCP students earned higher wages than comparison group peers.
  • ROCP students had more success in securing raises and promotions on the job.

ROCP Accountability

Accountability for ROCPs is driven by local governing boards. The CDE role is advisory. The Education Code does not have specific provisions giving the CDE authority to hold ROCPs programmatically accountable with consequences. Financially, however, all ROCPs are held to the same requirements as other local public educational entities.

ROCP governing boards are required, on a biannual basis, to review all courses for effectiveness by evaluating program completion and employment rates and to establish a documented labor market demand. Any course that does not meet these requirements and “. . .  the standards promulgated by the governing body . . . ” must be terminated within one year.

Under the Carl D. Perkins program, ROCPs annually report enrollment data and outcome data to the CDE, which are reported using four core indicators: academic skill attainment (receipt of a high school diploma); career and technical skill attainment (completing a CTE program or sequence of courses); placement (enrollment in postsecondary education, employed in related or nonrelated occupation, or full-time service in the military); and nontraditional enrollment and program completion. Those data are submitted to the U.S.  Department of Education as required under the Carl D. Perkins Act. This information also satisfies the annual reporting requirement under Education Code 8007.

In addition, ROCPs began voluntarily reporting data in 2004 on each program, such as courses conducted, local labor market demand, advisory committee meetings held, governing board approval status, core academic area standards supported, courses approved for core academic graduation and meeting a–g requirements, courses articulated with postsecondary institutions, and issuance of industry-based certification or license. This information is being collected this year for the first time as part of the Web-based Carl D. Perkins reporting system.

ROCPs report enrollment, outcome, and demographic data similar to Carl D. Perkins requirements for all CalWORKs adults enrolled in ROCP courses.

Nearly 40 percent (28 plus one new applicant) of the ROCPs have voluntarily applied for accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and received it. This trend reflects a clear interest in focusing on student success and in meeting expected schoolwide learning results. The WASC process is rigorous and lends itself to an excellent in-depth self-study and analysis of the ROCP in a school environment.

ROCPs have integrated academic standards into their career technical education curriculum. Currently, at least 149 ROCP career technical education courses are approved for meeting the UC a-g admission requirements. Through a CDE-funded project called CTE Online, ROCP teachers are able to determine, among other important information, which specific academic and other standards they are integrating into their lessons, with a special focus on the academic standards found on the California High School Exit Examination and California Standards Tests.

The State Board of Education adopted the career technical education standards on May 11, 2005, which have been provided to all ROCPs. The ROCPs have shown a strong interest in incorporating these standards into the curriculum.

Statutorily, ROCPs may offer academic courses to adults “. . . when it is determined that it is essential for this instruction to be given to ensure employability of the adult student.” Academic classes are not offered to high school students through the ROCP delivery system. Many ROCP classes include sufficient academic rigor to meet the UC a-g entrance requirements. These academic concepts are integrated within a career technical education course and are taught contextually. Therefore, the primary indicator of academic success of ROCP students is receipt of a high school diploma. In fiscal year 2003–04, 85 percent of twelfth grade ROCP student completers received a high school diploma.

ROCPs Connection with Business and Industry

  • ROCPs collaborate and work in partnership with more than 35,000 business and industry partners, as well as public and private agencies and associations, to develop industry-based curriculum and offer instructional classes and programs to meet local business and industry needs. Students receive occupational training taught by experienced business and industry experts at a variety of venues from regular classrooms on high school campuses to actual business and industry facilities such as automotive dealerships and hospitals.
  • ROCP instructors are required to have five years of recent verified industry experience in the occupational area they teach and are often hired directly from industry.
  • California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11504 requires every ROCP training program to have a business/industry advisory committee that meets annually to evaluate the program's curriculum, validate whether there are employment opportunities in that training area, and make suggestions regarding program operation.
  • ROCPs have demonstrated that the concept of work-based learning is particularly effective in motivating and training potential employees.
    Work-based learning is an important instructional methodology integral to the ROCP system. There are two types of work-based learning:  Community Classroom in which the student is not paid and Cooperative Vocational Education in which the student is paid. Businesses have formal training agreements with local ROCPs to allow hands-on training at the workplace, under the supervision of a credentialed teacher.
  • ROCPs are required to demonstrate, using labor market data, that the need for an occupational training program exists when the program is initiated and every two years thereafter during the biennial review by the local governing board.

ROCP Programs

  • ROCPs are available to all students sixteen years of age, or grade eleven and older, regardless of socioeconomic status, academic performance, ability, or prior education. ROCPs do not target populations to be served. The CDE does not collect ROCP data disaggregated by age.
  • The highest priority for enrollment is given to high school aged students. ROCPs may enroll students under age sixteen but are limited under law to a maximum of 3 percent of their total a.d.a. The State Board of Education may approve waivers authorizing the ROCP to serve underage students up to 10 percent of their a.d.a.
  • Statewide enrollments comprise approximately 70 percent high school students and 30 percent adults.
  • The CDE does not collect ROCP a.d.a. disaggregated by high school and adult students. The CDE does not collect a.d.a. or any other data by the type of setting in which students are served, such as charter school, continuation school, or community day school.
  • ROCPs are a program of choice for all participants, including college and non college bound. Courses taught in the ROCP delivery system encompass the full range of pathways in all 15 industry sectors.
  • In addition to teaching specific occupational skills, ROCPs also teach students general employment skills in all 15 industry sectors, as outlined in the career technical education standards recently adopted by the State Board.
  • ROCPs offer students support services, including job placement assistance and counseling and guidance services.
  • Many programs are designed for open entry, open exit of participants.
  • Extended school day and evening courses, intensive short-term training, and weekend courses are common; in some cases courses are offered during the summer months.
  • Program curricula are designed at the local level with suggestions from the business community and certification by the CDE.
  • ROCPs award certificates of completion and/or state or national industry-based certification upon successful completion of courses. These certificates are widely recognized and accepted by business and industry and, in many cases, constitute portable national licensure or professional certification.
  • Performance standards and measures are established and evaluated at the local level by the ROCP governing board, with suggestions from local business and the community.
  • All ROCP teachers have a designated subject credential or a single-subject credential in their subject area issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
  • Teachers of ROCP courses that satisfy a core academic area for graduation from high school are considered highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
  • ROCP instructors do not have tenure or permanency rights, allowing ROCPs to modify course offerings in rapid response to changing economic conditions and employment needs.
  • In addition to delivering quality CTE programs for all students, ROCPs can provide a realistic opportunity for people with serious barriers to employment: students who have dropped out, those reentering the educational system, reentry women, adults making the transition off welfare, displaced workers, and others needing an opportunity/assistance to succeed.

Demand for ROCP Expansion

For over 20 years, each ROCP has been “capped” at a specific level of a.d.a., yet the demand for new and innovative career training programs continues to increase. Local ROCP governing boards and administrators face continuing pressures from students, parents, school districts, and the community to increase programs and student enrollments.

Each ROCP must make decisions to continue to operate particular ROCP courses. ROCPs are often under pressure to serve a new or underserved clientele or experience an influx of youths due to above-average growth in the region. To balance this pressure, the ROCP must make difficult choices in light of its a.d.a. cap. Typically, the solution to these problems is to reduce ROCP courses that do not have sufficient job market demand to justify the program or to free-up a.d.a. to meet the needs of new students. Alternatively, some ROCPs infringe on the local county or school district general funds to cover increased costs associated with exceeding the cap on a.d.a.

Attachment 1:
The Third Page of the California Department of Education Form R-1, Reflecting the Small High School Service Allocation (1 page)

California Department of Education
School Fiscal Services Division
Form R.1 (Rev. 10/04)

2004-05 [ ] P-1 [ ] P-2 [ ] AN

_____________________________ County __________________________________ ROCP Name

L Small High School Service Allocation School #1 School #2 Total
1 Name of small high school for 2004–05 (School in grades 9–12 with 350 or less a.d.a.)      
2 2004-05 a.d.a. for grades 9–12 in the small high school      
3 2003-04 concurrently enrolled annual ROCP a.d.a. in the small high school      
4 2004-05 concurrently enrolled ROCP a.d.a. in the small high school      
5 2004-05 Full-time equivalent certified ROCP employees in small high school      
6 Full-time equivalent certificated ROCP employees required for full funding*      
7 Employee proration (If Line 5 equals or exceeds Line 6, enter 1, otherwise divide Line 5 by Line 6) (Calculate to 4 decimals)      
8 Small high school service allocation for a.d.a. on Line L-2**      
9 Prorated small high school service allocation (Line 7 times Line 8) (Round to a whole number)      

Service Allocation Schedule

Grades 9–12 a.d.a. * Required FTE **Service Allocation ($)
0-50 0.50 30,022
51-100 0.83 49,837
101-150 1.00 60,044
151-200 1.17 70,251
201-250 1.33 79,859
251-300 1.50 90,066
301-350 1.67 100,273

Contact Information

ROCP resources are administered by:

Career and College Transition Division
Career Technical Education Leadership and Instructional Support Office
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 4202
Sacramento, CA 95814

Clay Mitchell, Education Programs Consultant
Health Careers Education Consultant

Questions:   Career Technical Education Leadership and Instructional Support Office | 916-322-5050
Last Reviewed: Thursday, March 19, 2015
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