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California's System of Support

California's system of support is one of the central components of California’s accountability and continuous improvement system.

Funding Opportunity | Goal | Characteristics | Levels of Support | Roles and Responsibilities | Lead Agencies | State Agencies | Important Resources | Frequently Asked Questions | Summary of Most Recent State Board Items

Independent Evaluation for Differentiated Assistance

Evaluation of California's Differentiated Assistance External link opens in new window or tab. is an evaluation report conducted by WestEd in an effort to understand the impact of the targeted Technical Assistance known as Differentiated Assistance (DA). Additionally, WestEd completed an Addendum to the Evaluation of California's Differentiated Assistance External link opens in new window or tab. to provide key educational partners' perspectives of the evaluation report's recommendations and highlight some key insights that surfaced. If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact William McGee, Director of the Student Achievement and Support Division at WMcGee@cde.ca.gov.

Solicitation of Proposals for the Independent Evaluation of the Technical Assistance and Intervention Provided to local educational agencies (LEAs) for DA.

Goal

The overarching goal of California’s System of Support is to help LEAs and their schools meet the needs of each student they serve, with a focus on building local capacity to sustain improvement and to effectively address disparities in opportunities and outcomes.

At its heart, California’s System of Support is focused on improving the outcomes of California’s students. The purpose of California’s System of Support, articulated in California Education Code (EC) Section 52095.5(b) External link opens in new window or tab., is to build the capacity of LEAs in each of the following areas:

  1. Based on the results of the California School Dashboard (Dashboard),support the continuous improvement of student performance in each of the eight state priority areas described in EC sections 52060(d) External link opens in new window or tab. and 52066(d) External link opens in new window or tab..
  2. Address the gaps in achievement between student groups identified in EC Section 52052 External link opens in new window or tab..
  3. Improve outreach and collaboration with stakeholders to ensure that goals, actions, and services described in school district and county office of education (COE) Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) reflect the needs of students and the community, especially for historically underrepresented or low-achieving groups.

Characteristics

The characteristics of California's System of Support are:

  • Reducing redundancy across state and federal programs
  • Integrating guidance and resources across state and federal programs
  • Supporting LEAs to meet identified student needs through the LCAP process

Levels of Support

California’s System of Support provides three levels of support to LEAs and schools. The first level, general assistance, is made up of resources and assistance that are available to all LEAs and schools. The second level of assistance, known as DA, is targeted support that is available to LEAs that meet the eligibility requirements set by the State Board of Education (SBE). The third level of support, Intensive Intervention, may be provided to LEAs that are identified as having persistent performance issues and a lack of improvement over four consecutive years. A description of the supports available to LEAs at each level are highlighted in the table below.

Level of Support Description of Supports Available

Support for All LEAs and Schools
(Level 1)

Various state and local agencies provide an array of support resources, tools, and technical assistance that all LEAs may use to improve student performance at the LEA and school level and to narrow disparities among student groups across the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) priorities, including recognition for success and the ability to share promising practices.

Differentiated Assistance
(Level 2)

County superintendents, charter authorizers, the California Department of Education (CDE), and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) provide differentiated assistance for eligible LEAs, in the form of individually designed assistance, to address identified performance issues, including significant disparities in performance among student groups.

Intensive Intervention
(Level 3)

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction may require more intensive interventions for LEAs with persistent performance issues and a lack of improvement over a four-year period.

For information about eligibility requirements for DA and Intensive Intervention please see the FAQs below.

Roles and Responsibilities Within the System of Support

The LCFF identifies both Lead Agencies and State Agencies and tasks them with advancing the goal and purposes of the system of support. The Lead Agencies are tasked with building capacity and developing and providing supports to particular entities or groups within California’s education system, while the State Agencies are tasked with facilitating and coordinating the work of the Lead Agencies. The support provided by these Agencies ensure that there is: (1) a clear point of contact for a school district or COE to seek support responsive to a locally identified need, (2) a clear process and responsibility for agencies within the system of support to work together to connect the school district or COE with relevant resources or avenues for assistance, and (3) improved visibility of the resources, expertise, and services available across the state through various agencies and state-funded initiatives to support student success.

Lead Agencies

Geographic Lead Agencies

The Geographic Lead Agencies are primarily responsible for building the capacity of COEs to ensure that counties are equipped to build the capacity of their LEAs to support the continuous improvement of student performance within the state priorities.

21st Century California School Leadership Academy

The 21st Century California School Leadership Academy provides high-quality professional learning for administrators and other school leaders. A list of the regional academies may be found on the funding results page.

California Community Schools Partnership Program

The California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) supports schools' efforts to partner with community agencies and local government to align community resources to improve student outcomes. The CCSPP is supported by a system of support that includes a Lead Technical Assistance Center (TAC), eight Regional TACs, and multiple COEs.

California Early Math Initiative

The goal of the California Early Math Initiative is to continue to support a statewide early math initiative that includes the development, identification, and distribution of early math resources, professional learning and coaching for educators, and mathematical learning opportunities for children.

Community Engagement Initiative Lead Agencies

The Community Engagement Initiative External link opens in new window or tab. Lead Agency builds capacity in communities and LEAs and schools in order to expand successful community engagement practices statewide. More information can also be found on the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence External link opens in new window or tab. website.

Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant

As part of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant Program, the seven grantees, known as the Literacy Lead Agencies (LLA), work to build expertise in the priorities identified in the State Literacy Plan (PDF) through multi-year small-scale pilot projects with local districts. Each LLA is building professional learning networks and providing technical assistance to increase local capacity in implementing effective literacy instruction.

California Dyslexia Initiative

The goals of the California Dyslexia Initiative (CDI) External link opens in new window or tab. include building capacity in the Statewide System of Support to provide early intervention services for students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia; identifying effective models for identification and treatment of specific learning disabilities and delivering professional development on evidence-based instruction and strategies informed by research.

Early Literacy Support Grant

As part of the Early Literacy Support Block (ELSB) Grant Program the Expert Lead in Literacy supported grantees to build statewide professional learning networks and provide technical assistance to increase statewide capacity in implementing effective literacy instruction. Support from the Expert Lead concluded in November 2023. Local Educational Agency grantees will continue this work through June 2024.

Educator Workforce Investment Grant Program

The Educator Workforce Investment Grant program provides free professional learning opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals across the state for implementation of the Effective Language Acquisition Programs and Special Education.

Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)

The LCAP is a three-year plan that describes the goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities. The LCAP provides an opportunity for LEAs (COE, school districts, and charter schools) to share their stories of how, what, and why programs and services are selected to meet their local needs.

Local Control Funding Formula

The LCFF is hallmark legislation that fundamentally changed how all LEAs in the state are funded, how they are measured for results, and the services and supports they receive to allow all students to succeed to their greatest potential.

Multi-Tiered System of Support

The Scaling Up Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Statewide (SUMS) Initiative External link opens in new window or tab. provides resources, professional learning opportunities, and funding for LEAs to align academic, behavioral, and social-emotional supports to serve the whole child.

Special Education Resource Leads

The Special Education Resource Leads (SERL) consist of seven grantees chosen to provide specific expertise on special education issues within the statewide system of support. The Special Education Resources Leads were selected with the following focuses in mind: Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Capacity Builder, Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Best Practices, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and English Learners.

Statewide System of Support for Expanded Learning

The Statewide System of Support for Expanded Learning is the technical assistance network for supporting expanded learning programs funded by the After School Education and Safety Program, the 21st Century Community Learning Program, and the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program throughout California.

Title III COE Regional English Learner Specialists

The Title III COE Regional English Learner Specialists (RELS), provide technical assistance within assigned regions, equipping LEAs with resources and tools to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies that ensure all typologies of English Learner (EL) students have the resources needed to succeed. The work of the Regional COE EL Specialists is informed by the California English Learner Roadmap Policy.

Educator Workforce Investment Grant Program

The Educator Workforce Investment Grant program provides professional learning opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals across the state for implementation of the English Learner (EL) Roadmap Policy and Special Education.

Universal PreKindergarten

Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) is an early learning initiative with the goal of expanding access to prekindergarten programs across California through the mixed delivery system the year before Kindergarten.

State Agencies

The LCFF identifies the CDE, the CCEE, and the SBE as the three state agencies tasked with the responsibility of facilitating the work and supports being provided by the Lead Agencies. These agencies work collaboratively to coordinate the supports being provided throughout the system, provide guidance to the Lead Agencies, and solicit input and feedback from educational stakeholders, as well as partnering with the Lead Agencies to provide opportunities for LEAs to build their capacity.

Resources to Support LEAs and Schools

Select Resources Available Through California’s System of Support

The County Superintendents of Schools - Summary of Support (DOCX) is a compilation of information provided, as is, to the California Department of Education (CDE) by county superintendents of schools that provides a description as to how the county superintendents of schools will support the continuous improvement of all school districts within the county. (California Education Code Section 52066[i])

Frequently Asked Questions

System of Support Overview

What is the System of Support?

California is in the midst of implementing a new public school accountability system based on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which overhauled public school finance and accountability. A key part of California’s new approach is a refocused system of support for local educational agencies (LEAs) (school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education [COEs]), which is based on a three-level framework:

  • Support for All LEAs and Schools (Level 1): Various state and local agencies provide an array of resources and voluntary assistance that all LEAs may use to improve student performance at the LEA and school level and narrow disparities among student groups across the LCFF priorities, including recognition for success and the ability to share promising practices.
  • Differentiated Assistance (Level 2): County superintendents, the California Department of Education (CDE), charter authorizers, and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) provide differentiated assistance for LEAs, in the form of individually designed assistance, to address identified performance issues.
  • Intensive Intervention (Level 3): The State Superintendent of Public Instruction or, for charter schools, the charter authorizer may require more intensive interventions for LEAs with persistent performance issues over a specified time period.

Each of the three levels represents a type of assistance available or provided to LEAs, not a status or label applied to LEAs.

What is the goal of the System of Support?

The goal for support at all levels is to assist LEAs and their schools to meet the needs of each student served, with a focus on building capacity to sustain improvement and effectively address inequities in student opportunities and outcomes.

Is this different from California’s past approaches to assistance and intervention?

Yes. Support under the LCFF is intended to be tailored to locally identified needs, rather than imposed as a one-size-fits-all solution. Table 1 below identifies several key changes in California’s approach to supporting LEAs and schools to improve.

Table 1. Shifts in California's Approach to Improvement
Education Improvement Before the LCFF Education Improvement After the LCFF
Top-down transactional exchanges focused on schools in isolation Support providers work alongside LEAs and their schools to identify key challenges and opportunities
Packaged approaches for interventions Systemic approach tailored to locally identified needs and strengths
Isolated team decision making Engaging with local educators and communities as part of decision making
Redundancy and contradictions across state and federal programs Streamlined and coherent expectations for LEAs across state and federal programs
Assistance disconnected from local priorities and focus Assistance supports LEAs in aligning, prioritizing, and using resources to meet student needs identified in their LCAPs
How is the System of Support organized? What resources are available within it?

State law, as amended by the 2018 Budget Act, creates a structure with specifically defined roles and responsibilities that is intended to ensure that a base-level of support is available statewide and that relevant expertise can be leveraged regardless of where a school district is located.

The 2018 Budget Act clarified the roles and responsibilities and provided ongoing funding for the agencies responsible for providing differentiated assistance to school districts, specifically COEs and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence.

The 2018 Budget Act also established and provided funding for new roles with specific responsibilities aimed at developing the capacity of agencies responsible for providing differentiated assistance and ensuring access to a broad range expertise within the system of support. These include geographic lead agencies, special education resource leads, and expert leads that can be funded through specific provisions included in the annual budget. These agencies will work closely with the California Department of Education and California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. These investments ensure there are people or roles within the system whose duties specifically include supporting coordination and communication to connect LEAs to relevant resources or expertise.

Support for All (Level 1)

What is Support for All (Level 1)?

As noted above, various state and local agencies provide an array of resources and voluntary assistance that all LEAs may use to improve student performance at the LEA and school level and narrow disparities among student groups across the LCFF priorities, including recognition of success and the ability to share promising practices.

Support providers play a critical role in helping LEAs access resources that are responsive to their local needs and adapt those resources to fit the local context. Accordingly, work to further develop Support for All is focused on the “supports” that are used or referenced by assistance providers when working with LEAs and ensuring those supports are relevant, targeted, and reliable in responding to a locally identified need in order to assist in effective implementation of the state priorities and improved outcomes for all students.

What are examples of Support for All?

California provides numerous resources and supports that are available to all LEAs and schools. These include curriculum frameworks, practice guides, assistance from regional lead agencies, professional learning opportunities, individual coaching, grants, and resource clearinghouses that have been created through various state and federal programs.

More detailed information about Support for All is provided in a June 2017 Information Memorandum (DOC).

Differentiated Assistance (Level 2)

What is differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Differentiated assistance, as it is commonly termed, is targeted technical assistance under California’s public school accountability system as part of the LCFF legislation. Differentiated Assistance is designed to assist LEAs to address underlying causes that led to low student outcomes while strengthening the LEA’s overall ability to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and programs, adjusting as appropriate. Differentiated assistance is provided to school districts (districts), COEs, and charter schools.

Differentiated assistance is not a status or label that LEAs enter or exit, but a type of support rooted in continuous improvement.

Related EC sections are as follows: EC 52071 (Districts), EC 52071.5 (COEs), and EC 47607.3 (Charters).

What is the goal of differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

As noted, California’s public school accountability system is designed to reinforce the expectation that everyone can improve while also ensuring additional support is provided to LEAs that are struggling. It also includes an intentional focus on providing assistance in a manner that builds the capacity of the LEA receiving assistance in order to ensure improved outcomes and success for all students.

Differentiated assistance is therefore intended not only to help the LEA address the underlying causes that led to its eligibility for assistance, but also to strengthen the LEA’s overall ability to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and programs and make adjustments as appropriate for the benefit of all students. This approach equips the LEA to improve in areas that were not the focus of differentiated assistance and increases the likelihood that improvements will be sustained when the differentiated assistance ends.

Why are certain LEAs eligible for differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Eligibility for differentiated assistance is based on performance criteria set by the SBE, which are described below. Although this system continues to evolve, the criteria are currently based on performance within the LCFF state priorities, measured through both the state indicators and local indicators that are reported annually in the California School Dashboard (Dashboard).

More information on the Dashboard, including the state and local indicators, is available on the California School Dashboard Frequently Asked Questions web page.

What are the eligibility criteria for differentiated assistance for districts, COEs, and charter schools? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Eligibility for differentiated assistance is based on performance criteria set by the SBE. LEAs with at least one student group meeting the criteria in at least two priority areas are eligible for differentiated assistance.

The 2023 differentiated assistance criteria by LCFF priority area are the following:

LCFF Priority Areas 1–5 LCFF State Priority Areas 6–10
Basic Priority (Priority 1)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
School Climate (Priority 6)
Red on Suspension Rate Indicator, or
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Implementation of State Academic Standards (Priority 2)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Access to a Broad Course of Study (Priority 7)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Parent and Family Engagement (Priority 3)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Outcomes to a Broad Course of Study (Priority 8)
Very Low Status on College and Career Indicator (Status Only on Dashboard)
Pupil Achievement (Priority 4)
Red on both English Language Arts and Math Indicators, or
Red on English Language Arts or Math Indicators or Orange on the other Academic Indicator, or
Red on the English Learner Progress Indicator (ELPI) (English Learner student group only)
Coordination of Services for Expelled Pupils – COEs ONLY (Priority 9)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Pupil Engagement (Priority 5)
Red on Graduation Rate Indicator, or
Red on Chronic Absence Indicator
Coordination of Services for Foster Youth – COEs ONLY (Priority 10)
Not Met for Two or More Years on Local Performance
Districts and COE Eligibility

For 2023, a district or COE, can become eligible using one of three methods as follows:

Method 1 (State Indicators Only): One student group meets the criteria in at least two priority areas (e.g., Hispanic student group is Red for Chronic Absenteeism and Suspension—priority areas 5 and 6).

Method 2 (Local Indicators Only): An LEA has “Not Met for Two or More Years” on a Local Indicator in at least two priority areas (e.g., priority areas 1 and 2).

Method 3 (A combination of State and Local Indicators): One student group(s) meets(s) the criteria in one priority area (e.g., Students with disabilities receives Red for graduation rate—5), and the LEA or COE has “Not Met for Two or More Years” (e.g., Parent Engagement—3)

Charter Schools Eligibility

Charter schools will again be eligible for differentiated assistance, following the release of the 2023 California School Dashboard (Dashboard), but under new criteria pursuant to Assembly Bill 130 Section 123(d) (Chapter 44, Statues of 2021).

Charter school eligibility for differentiated assistance is based on the same Dashboard performance criteria used for districts and COEs, except instead of meeting the criteria in just one year, charter schools are required to meet the criteria in two or more years.  

In 2022, the SBE adopted differentiated assistance criteria was limited to using State Indicators. Therefore, only Method 1 (State Indicators Only) was available for identification.

In 2023, charter schools are eligible to meet the criteria in the following ways:

Method 1 (State Indicators Only): One student group meets the criteria in at least two priority areas. 

Method 2 (local Indicators Only): Has “Not Met for Two or More Years” on a Local Indicator in at least two priority areas.

Method 3 (A combination of State and Local Indicators): One or more student group(s) meets(s) the criteria in one priority area, and the charter school meets the “Not Met for Two or More Years” on only one local indicator in a different priority area.

Charter schools meeting the 2022 criteria, and 2023 criteria will be eligible for differentiated assistance in 2023.
When is differentiated assistance eligibility determined and where will the files be posted? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

The Differentiated assistance eligibility is posted in conjunction with the release of the California School Dashboard (Dashboard) as the “COE/District LCFF Assistance Status Spreadsheet” or “Charter School Assistance Status Spreadsheet.”

For those LEAs eligible to receive differentiated assistance, the LCFF Assistance files identifies how the LEA met the eligibility criteria (i.e., the student group[s] and relevant indicators).

For 2023, the release of the Dashboard and LCFF Assistance Status Spreadsheets is scheduled for December 15, 2023. The LCFF Assistance Status Spreadsheets are organized by county and LEA, and what type of assistance they are receiving. For those LEAs receiving differentiated assistance, it also identifies how the LEA met the eligibility criteria (i.e., the student group[s] and relevant indicators). A separate spreadsheet will be available for charter schools. More information about the LCFF Assistance Status Spreadsheets can be found on the LCFF web page on the CDE website at Local Control Funding Formula.

Will CDE be providing resources regarding the 2023 California School Dashboard (Dashboard) and the State and Local Indicators? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Yes. Resources regarding the 2023 Dashboard and the State and Local Indicators can be found on the CDE Dashboard Communications Toolkit web page and the Local Indicators web page.

Do LEAs have an opportunity to review the California School Dashboard (Dashboard) data before the Dashboard is publicly released? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Yes. Every fall, LEAs have an opportunity to preview the Dashboard data before the public release. Information about preview opportunities is shared with the designated Dashboard Coordinator(s) at each LEA.

Who provides differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)
School District

COEs provide differentiated assistance to eligible school districts located in their county. The COE, in consultation with the school district, may solicit another service provider to assist the eligible district.

Charter Schools

COEs provide differentiated assistance to eligible charter schools located in their county, unless that COE is the authorizer of the eligible charter school. In that case, the Geographic Lead Agency for the COE will provide differentiated assistance.

County Offices of Education

The CDE provides support for eligible COEs and their schools. COEs may be given the option to work with another COE in conjunction with CDE.

What will differentiated assistance include? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Statue describes what differentiated assistance may entail through four examples, all of which reflect the intent that agencies providing differentiated assistance work collaboratively with the LEA receiving assistance and that the assistance be flexible and context-specific.

Consistent with the intent under the LCFF that differentiated assistance be tailored to locally identified needs rather than imposed as a one-size-fits all solution, the approach to providing differentiated assistance has the following features:

  • Support providers work alongside LEAs and their schools to identify key challenges and opportunities,
  • A systemic approach tailored to locally identified needs and strengths connected to the LEA’s annual LCAP process,
  • Engagement with local educators and communities as part of decision making, and/or
  • LEAs retain control to select the improvement strategies and actions they will implement to address identified challenges and opportunities.


All COEs have committed to working with their districts and charter schools to facilitate a collaborative review of their Dashboard and other local data and a discussion of underlying causes of performance challenges. CDE is also committed to working with COEs on their continuous improvement process. COES and CDE have developed common tools and protocols for the facilitated process grounded in improvement science.

How long is differentiated assistance provided? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Beginning with the release of the 2023 Dashboard, differentiated assistance support will be provided to districts and COEs for a minimum of two years following identification of eligibility (EC 52071[c][1] and 52071.5 [b]). A year of support is the timeframe of “Dashboard to Dashboard.”

For charter schools, differentiated assistance support is provided for at least one year.

Is there a new path to eligibility for differentiated assistance regarding certification of California longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) data submitted to the CDE? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Yes. School Districts (EC 52071 [2][A–F]) and COEs (EC 52071.5 [c][1–6]) that do not certify their CALPADS data will become eligible for differentiated assistance. This provision does not apply to charter schools.

The eligibility for differentiated assistance based on this new criteria will begin with the release of the 2024 Dashboard. This eligibility is based on the CALPADS submission deadlines for the 2023–24 school year (Fall 1, Fall 2, and End-of-Year collections).

Now that Districts will be provided Differentiated Assistance for a minimum of two years beginning with the 2023 Dashboard and identified as eligible for support annually, can the district be identified in 2023 for one specific student group and priorities areas, and then in 2024 for a different student group in the same or different priority area? And if so, does that two-year term for Differentiated Assistance support begin all over? (Updated 01-Nov-2023)

Differentiated assistance eligibility is determined annually. Once a district is identified as eligible in any given year (starting with the 2023 Dashboard), the support must be provided for a minimum of two years (EC 52071[c][1]).

If for example, a district is identified eligible for differentiated assistance with the 2023 Dashboard, assistance needs to be provided, at a minimum, until the release of the 2025 Dashboard. If that same district is again identified for differentiated assistance with the release of the 2024 Dashboard, support will be provided until the release of the 2026 Dashboard.

Does CSI status require the county to provide differentiated assistance beginning with the 2023 Dashboard year? (Updated 01-Nov-2023)

County offices of education will not be required to provide differentiated assistance to LEAs with schools eligible for CSI based on the 2023 Dashboard. Once California has determined when COEs will provide this support, this information will be communicated.

Do charter schools need to be eligible for the same student group and priority areas for two years to become eligible? (Updated 01-Nov-2023)

Based on the eligibility criteria (provided above) for differentiated assistance, charter schools do not have to be eligible for the same student group(s) and priority areas for two years or more years to become eligible for differentiated assistance.

Eligibility is not only determined annually through student group performance, but also by local indicators not being met for two or more years. Therefore, a charter school can become eligible through student group performance in one year, and local indicator performance in the following year.

LCAPs, Stakeholder Engagement, and Differentiated Assistance

Will DA eligibility change the required groups for engagement for LCAP development for charters? (New 10-Jan-2024)

No, eligibility for DA has no impact on the LCAP engagement requirements for charter schools. California Education Code (EC) Section 47606.5(d) External link opens in new window or tab. requires that a charter school consult with teachers, principals, administrators, other school personnel, parents, and pupils in developing the LCAP.

Note: A charter school that is using its LCAP as its School Plan for Student Achievement must also meet the requirements of EC Section 52062(a) External link opens in new window or tab.

How does DA fit into the development of LCAPs? (New 10-Jan-2024)

The “LCAP process” is an annual cycle that includes development of the LCAP and ongoing implementation of the actions and services included in the approved LCAP.

As part of developing the LCAP and annual update, every LEA is expected to review its data, including performance on state and local indicators in the Dashboard and the effectiveness of actions and services included in the LCAP, and engage with educational partners when developing and/or updating goals, actions, and services that are ultimately included in the locally approved LCAP.

This is reflected in the current LCAP template, which includes a plan summary with prompts requiring LEAs to reflect annually on strengths, areas of low performance, and performance gaps as reflected in the Dashboard and other local data. Ongoing implementation and progress monitoring throughout the year is expected to inform the development/update of the goals, actions, and services included in the LCAP for the following year.

DA provides support to LEAs to build their capacity to improve student outcomes through the LCAP process. "DA exists within the LCAP process. There is no statutory requirement for developing a new 'improvement plan'" separate from the LCAP (November 2017 SBE Meeting, Item 4, Attachment 1 [DOC]).

LEAs identified for DA continue to complete their LCAPs and annual updates. A key element of DA is the review of data and analysis of underlying causes, which all LEAs are expected to complete as part of developing an LCAP, with additional support from the COE.

What is the role of educational partners in the differentiated assistance process? (New 10-Jan-2024)

As noted, school districts (districts) do not have to develop a new improvement plan as part of DA. Instead, the insights and conclusions gained from DA should be reflected in the district’s ongoing LCAP process, which requires stakeholder engagement.

District superintendents, or their designees, are responsible for engaging with their COEs and local educational partners in the DA process. COEs are required to provide DA to eligible districts. The initial step is a management consultation between the COE and district leadership. The district superintendent, or his or her designee, is responsible for determining who participates in the meetings with the COE staff.

Local educational partners have critical insights on strengths/weaknesses and underlying causes of low performance that will strengthen the DA process. COEs should offer to assist districts in thinking through how to engage local educational partners in the DA process and to integrate feedback into the district’s LCAP development process.

The insights and conclusions gained from DA should be reflected in the district’s LCAP process, which requires stakeholder engagement. Engaging educational partners in the decision-making process is a central principle of the LCFF. Districts should engage local educational partners before reaching definitive conclusions or settling on specific strategies. This is true regardless of whether a district elects to work primarily with a COE, a partner agency such as the CCEE, or another provider.

Is there now a requirement that LEAs document their differentiated assistance work in the LCAP? (New 10-Jan-2024)

Yes. Starting in 2023-24, LEAs (charters, districts, and COEs) eligible for DA must provide a plan summary of the DA work underway as part of their LCAPs.

COE Funding, Support for All, and Differentiated Assistance

Do school districts (districts) and charter schools receive additional funding if they are eligible for differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

No. Differentiated assistance is intended to support districts and charters in building their capacity to improve student outcomes through the LCAP process, which includes deciding how to use resources provided through the LCFF and other state, local, and federal funding sources to meet the needs of students and the local community. As noted, COEs must provide differentiated assistance to eligible districts. Districts also have the choice of working with another agency or provider.

Do COEs receive additional funding to provide differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Yes, COEs receive state funding to support their eligible districts and charter schools.

For 2023–24, COEs providing differentiated assistance to districts will receive base funding of $300,000, regardless of the number of districts eligible for differentiated assistance in the county.

COEs will receive additional funding based on the specific districts and charter schools identified for differentiated assistance.

For districts, the amount is based on the size and number of districts identified for differentiated assistance. (EC2575.2[b]). For each year a school district is identified for differentiated assistance the following COE funding allowances will be calculated.

School District Size Average Daily Attendance Allowance
Small 2,499 or less $100,000
Medium 2,500 to 9,999 $200,000
Large 10,000+ $300,000

A three-year average of the allowances calculated based on the number and size of districts is allocated to the COE.

For each year a charter school is identified for differentiated assistance, an allowance of $100,000 multiplied by the number of charter schools in the county in will be calculated for the COE. For charter schools authorized by a COE, the $100,000 allowance will be allocated to the COE that is a geographic lead of the region. In FY 2023–24 the allowance will be a two-year total allowance average, and in FY 2024–25 and forward, the allowance will be a three-year total average allowance.

The funding is intended to develop their capacity to support their districts with improving the outcomes and educational experiences for students, which includes providing differentiated assistance. Additional information on COE funding is below.

May COEs support school districts that have not been identified to receive differentiated assistance?

Yes. Since LCFF’s enactment COEs have used the unrestricted funding through the LCFF COE formula to provide support to districts. For example, some COEs have realigned the professional learning opportunities they provide to their districts or supported job-alike meetings or networks for staff across districts within their county to support focus on LCFF priorities and/or student groups central to the LCAP and the new accountability system. Finally, COEs review and approve LCAPs for their districts and offer assistance throughout that process.

As California moves forward in implementing the System of Support, there are many opportunities for COEs and districts to work collaboratively to address locally identified needs, regardless of whether a district has been identified to receive differentiated assistance, through the LCAP development process. For example, the same protocols that COEs and districts use for differentiated assistance (investigation of data, analysis of underlying causes, etc.) can be incorporated into ongoing conversations and coaching around LCAP development.

How will these funds be disbursed to COEs?

COEs will receive these additional funds through continuous appropriations, as part of their LCFF.  Funds will be added to their LCFF state aid and paid in monthly increments per the Principal Apportionment (PA) payment. The PA payment schedule will be posted on the PA web page at every certification period.

Can a Single District County receive these additional funds if they are identified for differentiated assistance? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

Pursuant to EC 2575.2(a)(2) single-district counties will receive a county base of $300,000 in 2023–24 (increased from 2022–23 allowance of $200,000).

If a school district from a single district county is identified for differentiated assistance, the district allowance based on the size of the district is allocated to the Geographic Lead Agency of the region in which the single district county is located based on the table above. Support can be provided by the Geographic Lead Agency or another COE.

What if the charter school identified for differentiated assistance is authorized by a COE that is also the geographic lead agency? Will they receive the funding for support? (Updated 10-Oct-2023)

In the case in which the COE is also the eligible charter school authorizer, it will receive $100,000 of funding based on the identification of its charter school for differentiated assistance. The COE shall then choose a designee to provide assistance to any charter school for whom the geographic lead agency’s county board of education is the authorizer.

Federal School Improvement Requirements

When do the school improvement requirements under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) take effect?

Under the ESSA, the state must identify schools in need of additional assistance based on various criteria. This requirement goes into effect for the first time in 2018–19, so schools will be selected for the first time in January 2019 based on their 2018 Dashboard data (expected to be released in December 2018).

Additional FAQs and resources are under development to provide more information on the criteria and timelines for identifying schools in the different categories required under federal law—comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI), and targeted support and improvement (TSI).

How does school identification under the ESSA fit into differentiated assistance for LEAs?

LEAs will be responsible for developing and/or approving school-level improvement plans for identified schools. As described in more detail below, California will use the existing LCAP and school level planning process to meet these federal requirements, with the state providing general resources and technical assistance to support LEAs.

Consistent with the System of Support’s focus on increasing the capacity of LEAs to meet the needs of all students, these resources will focus on building the capacity of LEAs to support their schools and differentiate those supports as appropriate based on data about opportunities and outcomes within the LCAP process. These resources will be available to all LEAs, i.e., they are Support for All (Level 1), and LEAs with identified schools will be responsible for using those resources to meet ESSA’s school improvement requirements.

ESSA’s school identification requirements intersect with Differentiated Assistance (Level 2) only when a school has been identified for CSI and has not met exit criteria within four years. In that circumstance, federal law requires more rigorous state-determined intervention. California’s more rigorous intervention is to identify the LEA to receive differentiated assistance based on the persistent low performance of one of its schools.

How will California use the existing LCAP and school level planning processes to meet these federal requirements?

The ESSA requires the development of school improvement plans for school identified in each category, with the planning requirements differing somewhat for each category.

California will utilize an existing school planning process for LEAs and schools to address the federal school planning requirements. Legislation enacted this year redesignated what was formerly known as the Single Plan for Student Achievement to the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) and updated statute to ensure this plan and the stakeholder engagement process for its development address federal planning requirements. Additional information, including updated guidance and an updated template are forthcoming.

Additionally, for CSI schools, the SBE must ultimately sign-off on the plans developed by the LEAs for these schools. To address this requirement, the CDE will recommend adding a new prompt to the existing LCAP Plan Summary template that LEAs with CSI schools must complete. COEs would have to approve this section of the LCAP, applying criteria under development to ensure the response addresses all federal requirements, prior to final SBE approval of the plans. The SBE is expected to consider this proposed modification to the LCAP template at its January 2019 meeting. Additional information and future updates are available on the CDE ESSA web page.

Small Districts, Single School Districts, and Charter Schools

Do charter schools and single school districts have to create an LCAP and a School Plan for Student Achievement?

Effective January 1, 2019, state law provides that single school districts and charter schools may utilize the LCAP to serve as the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA), provided that the LCAP meets federal school planning requirements and relevant stakeholder requirements for LCAPs under state law.

Charter schools and single school districts may use the LCAP planning process to meet the planning requirements of the LCAP and the SPSA. In doing so, they may utilize the LCAP stakeholder engagement requirements. If they choose to continue to develop both an LCAP and a SPSA, then, in the development of their SPSA, they must establish a School Site Council (SSC) to meet the federal planning requirements. Charter schools and single school districts may also choose to utilize a committee, such as the SSC, that meets federal planning requirements in developing their LCAP.

The CDE will provide additional guidance related to this issue in January. Schools and LEAs should already have their planning documents in place for the 2018–19 school year. The guidance that CDE provides in January can be used to plan for the 2019–20 school year, the first year that California is implementing the new school planning requirements under ESSA.

Communication Resources and Additional Questions

How can LEAs share this information with their local stakeholders?

A communications toolkit, which includes resources about the Dashboard, differentiated assistance, and the system of support is available on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page. COEs can also support school districts in determining how to communicate with local stakeholders.

Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns about the differentiated assistance process or a specific situation related to differentiated assistance being provided to a school district?

You can contact your local county office of education or the CDE's System of Support Office if you have any questions or concerns. Staff from these agencies respond quickly to any issues or concerns that arise.

Summary of Most Recent State Board Items

As the policy-making body for the CDE, the SBE is an integral part of California's system of support and continually receives updates. For the most recent items and presentations by the CDE on California's system of support, please visit the CDE SBE.

Questions: California System of Support Office | CASystemofSupport@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0302 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 01, 2024
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