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Using CALPADS for the Direct Certification Process

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: NSD-SNP-07-2010

Attention: Food Service Directors, Business Officials, and Data Coordinators

Date: January 2010

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

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides guidance to local educational agencies (LEAs) for using the new California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) for 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 either using a local data match through their county Department of Social Services and/or using the State-level matching system.

Change in State-level Matching System Starting February 2010

Beginning in 2007, the CDE and the Departments of Social Services and Health Care Services have provided a State-level matching process that is available at no cost to LEAs for directly certifying student eligibility for Food Stamps and CalWORKs. The California School Information Services (CSIS) conducts the State-level Direct Certification process and will continue to run data matches until February 2010. However, starting in February 2010, the new system (CALPADS) will conduct the process. CALPADS will provide the pupil data used for the Direct Certification matching process, store Direct Certification match results for the current school year, and will make results available to download by appropriate LEA officials for review.

The Direct Certification process of matching pupil information against State program data includes using pupil addresses as reported by the LEA. 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 CALPADS.

Advantages to Using CALPADS

The CDE sees the expansive use of 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 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 CALPADS, LEA staff will no longer need to submit any data specifically for participation in Direct Certification matching. LEAs still need to keep their 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 CALPADS.

In addition, if directly certified students leave one school 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 CALPADS or with electronic or printed material (e.g., reports) from the CALPADS.

    The LEA CALPADS Administrator must assign the “NSLP role” (user rights) to the designated users. Those staff with the “NSLP role” will be able to access NSLP (Direct Certification) reports and downloadable files in CALPADS.
  2. In February 2010, CALPADS will conduct the State-level Direct Certification data match for the first time. 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 file loads back into CALPADS. Authorized CALPADS users will be notified within the system notifications tab that the results of the recent data match are available for download.
  3. Authorized users with the “NSLP role” will log into CALPADS and navigate to the reports download screen. Authorized users will be able to download the Direct Certification results to a local computer for local use.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 CALPADS for enrolled students before the next monthly Direct Certification data match is run, then the updated address information will be used in the next match. In addition, any new students who are enrolled in 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 LEAs

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

For information about CSIS trainings, contact CSIS directly by phone at 916 325-9260 or by e-mail at

In addition, the CALPADS project team will provide Direct Certification training as part of its CALPADS training modules.

If you have any questions regarding using the CALPADS, please contact the CALPADS service desk at

If you have any questions regarding the Direct Certification process or policy, please contact Katie Tully at 916-445-4309 or by e-mail at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, March 20, 2017
Related Content
  • Direct Certification
    A federally mandated process that sponsors must use to certify school-age recipients of CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits as eligible for free school meals without further application.
  • School Nutrition Programs Management Bulletins
    School Nutrition Programs (SNP) management bulletins for sponsors of the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, and State Meal Program.
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