Frequently Asked Questions
Open Enrollment Act
Senate Bill 4 of the 5th Extraordinary Session
Due to the transition to the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress system, the calculation of the 2014 Growth and Base and 2015 Growth APIs were suspended by the State Board of Education. With the absence of a 2015 API score, the California Department of Education (CDE) cannot produce a new Open Enrollment Act list for the 2016–17 school year. For information on other types of student transfers, please visit the CDE District Transfers Web page.
What laws govern the Open Enrollment Act?
The Open Enrollment Act is governed by California Education Code (EC) sections 48350–48361 and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), sections 4700–4703.
What is the purpose of the Open Enrollment Act?
The purpose of the Open Enrollment Act is to improve pupil achievement and enhance parental choice in education by providing additional options to pupils to enroll in public schools throughout the state without regard to the residence of their parents/guardians. The Open Enrollment Act provides pupils enrolled in one of the 1,000 Open Enrollment schools the option to enroll in a school within the same district or any other district provided the school to which they are applying has a higher API score than the pupil's school of residence.
How are schools selected, designated, and placed on the list of Open Enrollment schools?
EC Section 48352(a)(2) states that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction "annually shall create a list of 1,000 schools ranked by increasing API with the same ratio of elementary, middle, and high schools as existed in decile 1 in the 2008–09 school year. (2) In constructing the list of 1,000 schools each year, the Superintendent shall ensure each of the following: (A) A local educational agency shall not have more than 10 percent of its schools on the list. However, if the number of schools in a local educational agency is not evenly divisible by 10, the Superintendent shall round up to the next whole number of schools. (B) Court, community, or community day schools shall not be included on the list. (C) Charter schools shall not be included on the list."
5 CCR, Section 4701(a)(2)(E) provides for the exclusion of schools from the Open Enrollment list that are not schools of a district of residence as defined in EC Section 48352(d). However, this provision is not applicable for such schools on the currently posted Open Enrollment lists.
In addition, schools with less than 100 valid scores reported on the 2009 Base API data file were excluded. Because of the ratio specified above, 68.7 percent (or 687 of the 1,000 on list) are elementary schools, 16.5 percent (or 165 of the 1,000 on the list) are middle schools, and 14.8 percent (or 148 of the 1,000 on the list) are high schools.
Creating the list starts with the identification of the 687 elementary schools, 165 middle schools, and 148 high schools that have the lowest API scores within the criteria described above. This list is ranked from lowest API score to highest API score. When an LEA on the list has reached its '10 percent' cap, subject to the roundup provision, (see also question 4) the LEA's schools with the highest API scores are dropped from the list until the Local Educational Agency (LEA) has no more than its '10 percent' number of schools on the list. Schools with the next lowest API scores remaining in the pool are then added to create the next list of 1,000 schools that maintains the required ratio of schools. This process continues until a final list of 1,000 schools is achieved that both maintains the ratio of 68.7 percent elementary schools, 16.5 percent middle schools, and 14.8 percent high schools and does not exceed any LEA's '10 percent' number of schools.
How is the Open Enrollment Act list of schools different from the list of schools identified as "persistently lowest achieving," or in Program Improvement (PI) schools?
Schools identified as "persistently lowest achieving," or schools in PI are identified based on criteria provided by the federal government. Information and links related to the distinctions can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools Web page.
Open Enrollment schools are identified based on provisions in EC Section 48352.
Which schools are excluded from the Open Enrollment Act list?
EC sections 48352(a)(2)(B) and (C) identify school types to be excluded from the Open Enrollment list. These school types are juvenile court schools, county community schools, community day schools, and charter schools. In addition, closed schools, schools having fewer than 100 valid test scores, schools that are not schools of a district of residence, and County Office of Education schools are excluded. The exclusion of schools with fewer than 100 valid test scores is necessary to reflect the lack of statistical certainty of an API score that is based on less than 100 valid test scores, per EC Section 52052(f)(1).
How are single school districts factored into the Open Enrollment process and list?
The statute does not make a specific reference to the inclusion of single school districts on the state's list of Open Enrollment schools. However, EC Section 48352(a)(2)(A) states "…, if the number of schools in a local educational agency is not evenly divisible by 10, the Superintendent shall round up to the next whole number of schools." Consequently, when the LEA's number of schools is not evenly divisible by 10, the 10 percent number of schools shall be rounded up to the next whole number of schools. If an LEA, therefore, has between one and nine schools, this rule means that at least one school can be on the list.
What happens if the school of enrollment has different requirements for graduation from high school than the district of residence?
Pupils will be expected to complete all requirements for graduation from their high school of enrollment.
What happens if the high school of enrollment has additional requirements for graduation beyond the requirements of the high school in the pupil's district of residence?
If the new high school has additional coursework requirements for graduation authorized by the governing board, the transfer pupil would normally be expected to meet those additional requirements for graduation. However, Assembly Bill 167 (Chapter 224, Statutes of 2009) exempts any dependent or ward in foster care from all additional coursework and other additional requirements if the pupil, while he or she is in grade eleven or twelve, transfers to the district from another school district, unless the district makes a finding that the pupil is reasonably able to complete the additional requirements in time to graduate from high school while he or she remains eligible for foster care benefits pursuant to law. If a pupil in foster care is granted an exemption which affects the pupil's ability to gain admission to a postsecondary educational institution, the school district is to notify the pupil and the person holding the rights to make educational decisions for the pupil.
Is the school of enrollment required to accept credits toward graduation that were awarded to the pupil by another school district?
Yes. The school of enrollment shall accept credits toward graduation and shall graduate the pupil if the pupil meets the graduation requirements of the school district of enrollment.
How are the needs of pupils identified for special education services met under the Open Enrollment Act?
Under federal and state laws, placement of a pupil identified for special education services is determined by the pupil's Individualized Education Program (IEP). The pupil's district of residence is primarily responsible for developing the IEP with input from the parents and the pupil. Placement designated in a pupil's IEP cannot be unilaterally changed by a parent/guardian or district of residence or any other proposed district of enrollment.
How will the needs of English learner/Limited English Proficient (EL/LEP) pupils be met?
California's schools are obligated to provide EL pupils with learning opportunities in an appropriate program based on the individual proficiency level of each pupil. The provision of such services is not contingent on the school or district of enrollment.
- Are school districts required to provide transportation of pupils enrolled in other districts pursuant to the Open Enrollment Act?
No. There is no obligation under the Open Enrollment Act for either school district to provide transportation due to the transfer of a pupil under the Open Enrollment Act. Local LEA governing policies determine the local transportation services. However, in certain cases, if a parent or guardian exercises "choice" under PI requirements, transportation services may be provided. Additionally, transportation may be provided by a school district as a part of a pupil's IEP.