District and School Accountability Systems
No education policy area has experienced greater tectonic shifts over recent years than districts and school accountability. For over a decade, California operated under a dual accountability model. Parents, educators, policymakers, and even realtors measured school quality using the state’s Academic Performance Index (API), a tidy three-digit score ranging from 200-1000. Meanwhile, the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)—a central component of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)— determined whether or not a school or district was “failing” based on English and math results and graduation rates. Failure to meet AYP results in a series of escalating interventions called “Program Improvement.”
In 2013, California adopted new accountability provisions as part of the Local Control Funding Formula And then in December of 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act originally signed by President Johnson in 1965 and replacing NCLB as federal education policy. ESSA gives flexibility to states while still retaining crucial civil rights protections and federal oversight for historically underserved students.
As California continues the process of redesigning our accountability system, ESSA, and the recently-released final ESSA accountability regulations provide the necessary information for our state to ensure we have one, federally-aligned system that also adheres to requirements of the Local Control Funding Formula.
For more on ESSA, and California’s next steps on accountability, see our Equity & Accountability: What You Need to Know page.