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Direct Certification Process Using the CALPADS

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: NSD-SNP-19-2010

Attention: Food Service Directors, Business Officials, Data Coordinators

Date: November 2010

Subject: Change Coming in State-Level Direct Certification Process – Using the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System

Supersedes: Management Bulletin NSD-SNP-13-2010 (July 2010)

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides guidance to local educational agencies (LEAs) on the use of the California Department of Education’s (CDE’s) new California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) to comply with the Direct Certification process.

Direct Certification

Direct Certification is the federally mandated process through which school-age recipients of Food Stamps and CalWORKs benefits are certified as eligible for free school meals without further application. LEAs may implement Direct Certification by using either a local data match through their county’s Department of Social or Welfare Services and/or using the State-level data matching system.

Change in State-level Matching System Starting August 2010

The CDE and the California Departments of Social Services and Health Care Services have provided a State-level matching process since 2007 that is available at no cost to LEAs for directly certifying student eligibility for CalFresh and CalWORKs. The California School Information Services (CSIS) conducted the State-level Direct Certification process and ran data matches through July 2010. On August 19, 2010, the CDE’s new data system (CALPADS) began conducting the State-level Direct Certification process. The CALPADS will provide the pupil data used for the Direct Certification matching process, store Direct Certification match results for the current school year, and make results available to download by authorized LEA officials for review. The CALPADS match results will indicate if the student is directly certified as eligible for free meals, if the student is not directly certified, or if an error with the submitted student address prevented an attempted match.

The Direct Certification process uses pupil addresses (as reported by the LEA in the CALPADS) to match pupil information against state program data. The CSIS will continue to play a role in the Direct Certification process by offering an “Address Validation” service to those LEAs that would like their address data “cleaned up” prior to inputting it to the CALPADS. The CSIS will also continue to provide training on Direct Certification and how to access Direct Certification results in the CALPADS.

Advantages to Using CALPADS

The CDE views the expansive use of the CALPADS as a great opportunity for LEAs to directly certify many more children for free meals. All kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) public LEAs will have easy, direct access through the CALPADS to Direct Certification match results for students enrolled at their schools. Since all student data needed for the Direct Certification match process is already maintained by LEAs in the CALPADS, LEA staff will no longer need to submit any data specifically for participation in Direct Certification matching. LEAs still need to keep their student data updated as changes occur, but with the new process, Direct Certification match results will be automatically available to all K-12 public LEAs to download monthly from the CALPADS.

In addition, if directly certified students leave one district and enroll in another district, their Direct Certification match codes will remain accessible in their CALPADS files for the remainder of the school year.

How Direct Certification Will Work in CALPADS
  1. Each LEA must have a designated LEA CALPADS Administrator. Once LEA CALPADS Administrators have access (system username and password), they have the ability to assign and maintain local access accounts to CALPADS users. Some of these users will be local staff members that have a business need to access the Direct Certification data in the CALPADS.

LEAs must determine which staff should be granted access to CALPADS data, including National School Lunch Program (NSLP) eligibility data and Direct Certification data. After appropriate local users are identified, they should read and understand all applicable State and federal privacy laws and set in place appropriate privacy safeguards. It is a best practice to require staff to read and sign documentation attesting to their comprehension of applicable State and federal privacy laws (e.g., California Education Code sections 49557 and 49558) when working in the CALPADS or with electronic or printed material (e.g., reports) from the CALPADS.

The LEA CALPADS Administrator must assign the “Direct Certification” role (user rights) to the designated users. Those staff with the “Direct Certification” role will be able to access Direct Certification reports and request downloadable files in the CALPADS.

  1. The CALPADS conducted the State-level Direct Certification data match for the first time in early August 2010 and each month thereafter. This process selects certain CALPADS data elements for all students enrolled at the time of the extract process and compares them to the CalWORKs and Food Stamp data file extracts in order to determine which enrolled students are eligible for free meals at their school of enrollment. After the data match, the results are loaded back into the CALPADS, and the information is made available to authorized users.
  1. Authorized users with the “Direct Certification” role will log into the CALPADS and navigate to the reports download screen in order to download the Direct Certification results to a local computer for local use.
  1. Local food services staff will be able to use the downloaded Direct Certification file to determine which enrolled students are eligible for free meals and incorporate that information into local business practices to provide meals to eligible children.
  1. LEAs will be able to easily participate in Direct Certification matches monthly by repeating steps 2-4 listed above.

LEA staff should resolve student address errors that are indicated in the match results file. If corrected address data are available and submitted to the CALPADS for enrolled students before the next monthly Direct Certification data match is run, the updated address information will be used in the next match. In addition, any new students who are enrolled in the CALPADS at the school since the last Direct Certification data match will be included in the CALPADS extract at the time of the next monthly data match processing.

Students who were not Directly Certified in previous data matches will continue to be processed for a potential match in future months. If the match process finds that a student is now eligible, the “match” code will overwrite the previous “non-match” code. If a child is Directly Certified during any monthly match, the certified status will remain with the child for the duration of that school year, and the child will not be included in future monthly matches for the remainder of that school year.

Training for Local Educational Agencies

The CSIS, which currently provides training on the CALPADS, will continue to provide technical support and training for LEAs regarding how to use the CALPADS to extract Direct Certification results. The CSIS will also continue to provide training on how to use the Address Validation service that the CSIS offers.

For information about CSIS trainings, visit the CSIS CALPADS Training Schedule and Registration Web page at or contact the CSIS directly by phone at 916-325-9210 or by e-mail at

If you have any questions about using the CALPADS, please contact the CALPADS service desk at The CALPADS support request form can be accessed at

If you have any questions regarding Direct Certification policy requirements, please contact Katie Tully in the School Nutrition Programs Unit by phone at 916-445-4309 or by e-mail at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 16, 2017
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