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Planning for the LCAP and School Plan

An integrated approach to planning for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and School Plan.

An Integrated Approach to Planning for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and School Plan

In an effort to reduce redundancies at the local level, the templates for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the School Plan for Student Achievement (School Plan) have been designed to work together. The LCAP is a local educational agency (LEA) level planning document with a three-year timeline, while the School Plan is specific to a schoolsite with a one-year term. Despite these differences, the nature of each plan is similar by design. As a result, an LEA and its schools can benefit from the use of a shared vocabulary and planning process that is embedded in a context of continuous improvement.

The approach to planning described here is a continuous improvement model framed around the sections of the LCAP and School Plan. Figure 1 illustrates a suggested sequence of planning stages, which begins with the identification of resource inequities, as applicable, and a review of past performance as addressed in the Analysis sections of each plan.

Flow of work image starting from Resource Inequities, then going to Analysis, Identified Need, Goal, Actions/Strategies, and ending at Measurable Outcomes. Stakeholder Engagement would be present in all these items.

Overview

As provided for in California Education Code (EC) Section 52062(a)(4) for school districts and EC Section 52068(a)(4) for county superintendents of schools, a superintendent must review the LCAP and School Plans to ensure that the two plans are consistent. Using an integrated approach to planning ensures a consistent alignment between the LCAP and School Plans. The required prompts in each plan template are not intended to set an upper limit on what is allowed. Rather, the prompts and instructions indicate a lower limit of what is minimally necessary. The School Plan is used to meet planning requirements for Title I Schoolwide Programs (SWP), Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI).

General resources about planning for continuous improvement can be found on the Continuous Improvement page.

The templates for the LCAP, Budget Overview for Parents, and the School Plan are available on the LCAP page.

The following applies equally to the LCAP and School Plan except where noted.

Stakeholder Engagement/Involvement

This section is titled “Stakeholder Engagement” in the LCAP and “Stakeholder Involvement” in the School Plan. In this section, the LEA or school describes the process used to consult with stakeholders in the development of the plan. This is an ongoing, annual process. Specific stakeholder engagement requirements for development of the LCAP are described in EC sections 52062 (school district), 52068 (county), and 47606.5 (charter school). The School Plan is developed by the schoolsite council of the school and must be shared with other schoolsite-level advisory groups in order to seek input about the School Plan. Site-level advisory groups may include the English Learner Advisory committee, student advisory groups, and tribes and tribal organizations present in the community. Stakeholder engagement requirements for development of the School Plan are provided in EC Section 64001(c) and (h) and Section 1114(b)(2) of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Resource Inequities

Schools eligible for CSI or ATSI must identify and describe any resource inequities identified as a result of the required needs assessment, which may include a review of the LEA’s budgeting, its LCAP, and school-level budgeting, if applicable. While not explicitly required in an LCAP, LEA or school-level resource inequities may be addressed in the LCAP. Consideration of resource inequities can inform the assessment of the effectiveness of actions in the Annual Update of the LCAP and provide a basis for the establishment of goals and/or expected outcomes for specific student groups.

Analysis

This section prompts LEAs and schools to describe the overall implementation and effectiveness of the actions or strategies to achieve the goal along with any differences between planned and actual expenditures and any changes made to the goal moving forward. When describing implementation, consider addressing the extent to which the actions or strategies were implemented and any differences between what was planned and what was actually implemented. When describing effectiveness, consider addressing the relationship between the actions or strategies and the annual measurable outcomes achieved. What specific outcomes did each action or strategy help achieve? This annual review and analysis should be the basis for making updates to the plan moving forward.

Identified Need

The Identified Need is the basis for establishing the goal. Identified needs may be based on quantitative or qualitative information, including, but not limited to, results of the annual update or review process and performance data reported on the California School Dashboard. Consider using data collected when measuring performance on the local indicators.

Goal

A goal is a broad statement that describes the desired result to which all actions/services are directed. A goal answers the question: What is the LEA or School, as applicable, seeking to achieve?

Action/Service:Strategy/Activity

Actions and Strategies address the findings of the needs assessment and/or the annual review of performance data consistent with state priorities and resource inequities. Resource inequities may be identified through a review of the LEA’s budgeting, its LCAP, and school-level budgeting, if applicable.

Annual Measurable Outcomes

Identify the metric(s) and/or state indicator(s) that the LEA or school will use as a means of evaluating progress toward measurable outcomes and accomplishing the goal. The metrics may be quantitative or qualitative. As applicable, identify metrics for specific student groups. Include in the baseline column the most recent data associated with the metric or indicator, which may include data reported in the annual update or annual review section of the plan.

In the LCAP, the baseline must remain the same throughout the three-year LCAP cycle. In the School Plan, the baseline is updated each year, which effectively makes the baseline the same as the actual outcome. At a minimum, an LCAP must use the applicable required metrics for the related state priorities as applicable to the type of LEA.

Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement/Involvement

Involving stakeholders in plan development through meaningful engagement is an annual, ongoing process. Although requirements of the stakeholder engagement and involvement process differ somewhat between the LCAP and School Plan, the purpose of the process is the same: to facilitate an involvement process through meaningful engagement with stakeholder groups and incorporate collected feedback into the relevant plan.

Information that may be included in a description of the stakeholder engagement and involvement process might be dates of stakeholder meetings or surveys, number of participants, and a list of stakeholder groups that participated. Other information might include additional efforts made by the LEA or School to meaningfully involve all parts of its educational community. For example, LEAs will often translate important documents and other communications such as public notices in an effort to increase participation in the process. These are just some examples and are not intended to comprise an exhaustive list of all things that might be included in the description of the stakeholder engagement involvement process. For more information about best practices for stakeholder engagement, see the CDE’s Family Engagement Toolkit (PDF) .

When writing a response to the stakeholder engagement or involvement prompts in the plans, consider the set of minimum legal requirements as a helpful framework for describing the process by which stakeholders were engaged and involved in plan development.

School Plan

Consider the stakeholder involvement requirements for the School Plan, which is developed by the schoolsite council. The plan must be developed with the involvement of parents and other members of the community to be served and individuals who will carry out such plan, including teachers, principals, other school leaders, paraprofessionals present in the school, administrators, tribes and tribal organizations present in the community, and, if appropriate, specialized instructional support personnel, technical assistance providers, and school staff. If the plan relates to a secondary school, the School Plan shall also be developed with the involvement of students. The School Plan must also be developed with the review, certification, and advice of the school’s English learner advisory committee, if required.

As applicable, using this list of stakeholder groups as an outline, a description of the stakeholder involvement process for development of a School Plan may include information about meetings or other engagement activities with each stakeholder group, such as date and time or frequency of meetings, specific input provided by stakeholder groups, and how the resultant plan addresses this input.

Helpful Information about School Plan Stakeholder Involvement: As provided for in EC Section 64001, an LEA may utilize the schoolsite council to meet the stakeholder requirements established in Section 1111(d)(1)(B) and Section 1111(d)(2)(B) of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. These sections of ESSA refer to the stakeholder engagement requirements for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), respectively. For CSI plans, the requirement is that the LEA “shall, for each school identified by the State and in partnership with stakeholders (including principals and other school leaders, teachers, and parents), locally develop and implement a comprehensive support and improvement plan for the school to improve student outcomes” (ESSA Section 1111(d)(1)(B). For TSI plans, the requirement is for the school, “in partnership with stakeholders (including principals and other school leaders, teachers and parents), shall develop and implement a school-level targeted support and improvement plan to improve student outcomes…” (ESSA Section 1111(d)(2)(B).

The School Plan must be available to the local educational agency, parents, and the public. The information contained in a School Plan shall be in an understandable and uniform format.

LCAP

The same strategy for writing a description of the stakeholder engagement process, as described above for the School Plan, can be applied to the description of stakeholder engagement in the LCAP. Specific stakeholder engagement requirements for development of the LCAP are described in EC sections 52062 (school district), 52068 (county), and 47606.5 (charter school).

Charter Schools: EC Section 47606.5(e) requires charter schools to “consult with teachers, principals, administrators, other school personnel, parents, and pupils in developing” the LCAP. A charter school can use this list of the statutorily required stakeholder groups to develop a description of the engagement process by using the list as a kind of outline and describing the ways in which each group was involved. A description of the involvement of other locally defined stakeholder groups can be included as well.

School Districts and County Offices of Education: School districts and county offices of education are required to “consult with teachers, principals, administrators, other school personnel, local bargaining units of the school district, parents, and pupils in developing” the LCAP (EC sections 52060(g) and 52066(g) respectively). Likewise, a school district or county office of education can use this list of the statutorily required stakeholder groups to develop a description of the engagement process by describing the ways in which each group was involved. A description of the involvement of other locally defined stakeholder groups can be included as well.

School districts and county offices of education also include the involvement of a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and, if certain English learner enrollment thresholds are met, an English Learner Parent Advisory Committee (ELPAC). The advisory bodies that serve as a PAC or an ELPAC may have different names from one LEA to the next as long as they meet the composition requirements provided in regulations. Describing the involvement of these committees might include, among other things, dates of meetings, comments made by the committee, and a summary of the LEA’s responses to the committee’s comments. Appendix B of the LCAP Template includes a set of guiding questions that can be helpful for deliberating about what to share in the Stakeholder Engagement section of the LCAP.

LCAP Stakeholder Engagement Impact

While the following information is specific to the LCAP, it is applicable and may be helpful for the development of the School Plan.

The Stakeholder Engagement section of the LCAP has two parts. In the first part, an LEA addresses the process of engaging stakeholders. In the second part, an LEA addresses the impact this process has on the LCAP. It is important to recognize how these two parts are different. Engaging stakeholders in a process of involvement to gather feedback about the development of the LCAP does not necessarily mean that stakeholders have had an impact on the LCAP. Translating stakeholder engagement into meaningful impact on a plan, including the LCAP, is a process all its own. The purpose of this part of the Stakeholder Engagement section is to demonstrate that the LEA has genuinely thought about the feedback received from stakeholders and is acting on this feedback in a manner that best serves all students.

An LEA’s stakeholder involvement process, as described in the first part of the Stakeholder Engagement section, might include several different meetings with a variety of stakeholder groups, a survey that is open to the whole community, and targeted focus groups on specific topics of concern. Such a process will generate an abundance of useful information. One way of framing the question about stakeholder impact is to ask about the impact that this information has on the LCAP. What connections, if any, can be made between what an LEA learns through its stakeholder involvement process and what an LEA plans to implement in the LCAP?

For example, the information gathered through the stakeholder involvement process might show that parents are more concerned about school safety than the LEA had previously assumed. When addressing stakeholder impact, an LEA can briefly describe how school safety is being addressed in the LCAP as a result of what the LEA learned through the stakeholder involvement process.

In other cases, an LEA might learn of stakeholder concerns or wishes that raise important issues but may not be directly addressed in the LCAP. For example, what if stakeholders overwhelmingly support an investment that would be too impractical to implement or is not in the best interests of all students? An LEA’s leadership will want to address the underlying issues behind this support while also explaining how such an investment is not in the best interest of the district and its students over the long term.

There are many different ways in which the stakeholder involvement process can impact the LCAP. Sometimes it might be as simple as including a service in the LCAP that was requested by stakeholders. At other times, impact might be a matter of addressing the reasons why certain services are not included in the LCAP.

For more information and resources about stakeholder engagement, visit the Continuous Improvement page.

Resource Inequities

Schools eligible for CSI or ATSI must identify and describe any resource inequities identified as a result of the required needs assessment, which may include a review of the LEA’s budgeting, its LCAP, and school-level budgeting, if applicable. Consideration of resource inequities can inform the assessment of the effectiveness of actions or strategies and provide a basis for the establishment of goals and/or expected outcomes for specific student groups. While not explicitly required in an LCAP, an LEA may choose to address resource inequities in the LCAP. However, single school LEAs that choose to use the LCAP to meet school planning requirements for CSI and ATSI must identify resource inequities in the LCAP.

Identifying resource inequities may include identifying ways in which a program may be unfair or lack inclusion. Fairness in this context means that one’s personal characteristics - for example gender, socio-economic status, or ethnic origins - are not an obstacle to achieving one’s potential. Inclusion in this context means that learning expectations and a standard level of education applies to all students. Identifying areas in a school program in which some students are not held to the same standards may result in the identification of a resource inequity. Other examples of resource inequities may include lower-quality books and instructional materials, less access to laboratories, outdated computers, significantly larger class sizes, or less qualified or experienced teachers. Identification of resource inequities may involve the identification of current strategies and practices that are contributing factors to the identified inequities.

Analysis

Because the Analysis section of the plan examines both outcome data and effectiveness of practice, it provides the opportunity to conduct a needs assessment and should be closely related to the identified need for the goal. This section prompts LEAs and schools to describe the overall implementation and effectiveness of the actions or strategies to achieve the goal along with any differences between planned and actual expenditures and any changes made to the goal moving forward.

When describing implementation, consider addressing the extent to which the actions or strategies were implemented and any differences between what was planned and what was actually implemented. For example, if the planned action was to purchase supplemental instructional materials in social science for all 7th and 8th grade classrooms, a discussion of the extent to which such an action was implemented might include information about whether or not all 7th and 8th grade classrooms received new materials. Perhaps one or two of the classrooms already had the materials in question from an earlier pilot program. A discussion of differences in implementation might indicate that it was decided to provide supplemental instructional materials for English language arts rather than social science as planned and that the social science materials will be purchased next year. A discussion of such differences can include an explanation to help stakeholders understand the reasons for the differences and to reassure those affected by the differences that the needs of students are being met.

When describing effectiveness, consider addressing the relationship between the actions or strategies and the annual measurable outcomes achieved. An LEA or school might describe relationships between specific actual outcomes and specific actions or strategies as a basis for determining effectiveness. Refer to the discussion on Annual Measurable Outcomes for a distinction between different kinds of outcomes, which will be helpful in understanding the relationships between actions or strategies and measurable outcomes.

Identified Need

A goal is designed to meet one or more identified needs. Needs are identified through a process of continuous improvement and provide the rationale for why a particular goal is created. It answers the question, “Why are we doing this?” Identifying a need may arise from conversations with stakeholders, considerations of gaps in student performance, consideration of data reported through the California School Dashboard, and/or the development of the annual update section of the LCAP or the Annual Review section of the School Plan.

When completing the annual update or review of either plan, an LEA or school must assess the overall implementation and effectiveness of the actions and strategies to achieve the goal. Based on such an assessment, the identified need may remain the same from one year to the next or it may be modified.

Once a need has been identified, it is helpful to reflect on the best way to describe the need in the plan. Although the term “identified need” sounds deficit based, a description of an identified need does not have to be given in terms of a deficit. An identified need may be framed in a number of ways, including as a promising change, a potential area of growth, a specific problem, or a specific course of action for long term improvement. It need not always be an explicit reference to an unsatisfactory result. Schools have a “need” to excel and to continue working on its strengths as well as to address perceived deficits.

For example, an identified need related to school climate can be described in terms of low levels of engagement or in terms of a promising area of potential growth. The description of an identified need in a goal does not necessarily need to contain the word ‘need’. Consider whether a deficit or strength based formulation of an identified need best fits a particular goal in your local context.

As required by EC Section 64001(g)(2)(A), the development of a School Plan must include the administration of a comprehensive needs assessment, which includes an analysis of verifiable state data. Schools may also choose to include a review of local data as part of the needs assessment. The School Plan addresses the needs of student groups identified through the needs assessment. In an LCAP, the development of the Annual Update section serves the same function as the comprehensive needs assessment does for a School Plan.

For more information on identifying needs, such as how to conduct a root cause analysis, see the Continuous Improvement page.

Goal

A goal in both the LCAP and School Plan is composed of several different elements, including the goal statement, identified need, annual measurable outcomes, and planned actions or strategies. In a well written goal, it will be clear how all of these elements are related. The first step to writing a goal is to identify the need to be addressed by the goal. For more information about identifying needs, see the Identified Need section.

A well written goal statement is more than a restatement of the identified need. For example, if an LEA or school identifies a need to improve CAASPP scores in English language arts, the corresponding goal statement is not simply “To improve CAASPP scores in English language arts.” The corresponding goal statement to address this identified need should be more than a simple rephrasing of the identified need.

There are many helpful theories and models on how to write goals. One such approach to writing a goal statement is the SMART model.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

A goal that meets these 5 criteria is a “SMART” goal.

Consider this goal statement that is based on the identified need mentioned earlier and includes additional information:

“Our goal is to raise CAASPP scores in English Language Arts across all grade levels to an average of 10 points above level 3 by 2023.”

This goal statement is specific because it states a specific content area - English Language Arts - and clarifies that all grade levels will be addressed. It is measurable because the LEA or school will be able to determine as a matter of fact whether or not they meet the goal by measuring whether or not their scores improve by 7%. It is time bound because it states that the goal will be achieved by 2023. Whether or not it is achievable and relevant is determined at the local level by the LEA or schoolsite. If the goal statement is specific, measurable, and time-bound, whether the goal is achievable and relevant can be more accurately assessed.

For more information about S.M.A.R.T. goals, please see University of California's Smart Goals: A How to Guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Action/Service

Identifying Actions/Strategies

To develop actions and strategies, consider developing a working theory of practice improvement for each goal. First, identify an initial set of key ideas about the improvement needed to achieve the goal. These ideas should be an LEA’s or school’s initial educated assumptions about what to focus on and will provide an overview of the landscape that will undergo change as a result of the actions and strategies implemented. For example, if the goal in question is focused on raising the high school graduation rate, a key idea, based on the local context, might be to support students’ positive sense of a welcoming school community.

Because key ideas will be too general to be actionable, further specify sub-ideas by conducting an analysis of the key ideas until an appropriate level of detail is reached. Such an analysis may consider any possible new processes to add, current processes to change, new programs to design and/or test, and new organizational norms that will be crucial to successfully implementing the key ideas. It is not necessary to be exhaustive or comprehensive in this analysis; the objective is to arrive at a few carefully chosen actionable change ideas that are evidence based and support the relevant key idea and, ultimately, the goal.

The actionable change ideas that result from the analysis of key ideas may serve as actions in an LCAP or strategies in a School Plan. Or, the LEA or school may decide to further test and improve the change ideas (PDSA cycle) before including them in the plan as actions or strategies. When deciding on actions and strategies to include in a plan, consider the current level of organizational capacity and individual capability available for implementing the actions or strategies.

To meet TSI/ATSI planning requirements in the School Plan, include activities or strategies for those student groups that are the subject of notification to the school that the school is eligible for TSI/ATSI.

More information about selecting actions and strategies can be found on the Continuous Improvement page.

Outcomes

Annual Measurable Outcomes

In the Annual Measurable Outcomes part of a goal, an LEA or school indicates the metrics it will use to measure a goal’s effectiveness. A baseline, along with expected outcomes, is provided for each metric included. The baseline for a metric is the most recent performance level measured for that metric that is available. The expected future outcomes for each metric should not be trivially achievable nor should they be unrealistic. A good expected outcome is both challenging and achievable.

An LEA or school may choose to use both quantitative and qualitative metrics. An example of a quantitative metric is the high school graduation rate. An example of a qualitative metric would be a measure of how safe students feel at school. Although a sense of safety can be reported in numerical terms using a scale, it is a qualitative metric because it relies on human judgment and descriptions of experience rather than empirically verifiable fact.

An LCAP may also address other locally defined metrics and the state and local indicators of the California School Dashboard and may identify metrics for specific student groups. To meet TSI/ATSI planning requirements in the School Plan, include metrics for those student groups that are the subject of notification to the school that the school is eligible for TSI/ATSI.

Consider the use of both outcome measures and practical measures in the plan. Outcome measures operationalize the goal and serve as a means for tracking overall progress toward the goal. An example of an outcome measure might be the annual attendance rate. In the context of the LCAP or School Plan, a practical measure serves as a means for assessing the effectiveness of specific actions and strategies and is used in a formative manner to guide the implementation of the action or strategy. An example of a practical measure might be student performance on a weekly assessment as a means for assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of a new curriculum.

For more information about data types and possible sources of data, see "Tool D" on the Continuous Improvement page.

Questions:   Local Agency Systems Support Office | LCFF@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0809
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
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