California Department of Education Releases New Information to Help Students in Foster Care
SACRAMENTO—The California Department of Education (CDE) today released new information about the nearly 70,000 foster youth in the state’s public schools as part of a coordinated effort to assist these vulnerable and academically at-risk students.
California’s groundbreaking Local Control Funding Formula, passed by the California State Legislature in 2013, significantly increased funding for high-needs students including foster youth, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students. School districts also received greater flexibility to meet student needs.
The law requires CDE to collect detailed information about educational results for foster youth annually.
Today’s reports are the first in a series and include the number of students in foster care at the county, district, and school levels. Details of student achievement are based on statewide test results. In the next few months, the CDE will release reports on suspensions and expulsions, graduation rates, and student mobility.
“We know that foster youth face unique challenges,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “The California Department of Education is leading new efforts to help improve outcomes for foster youth, but California can and should do more to help these young people succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.”
The Department is helping two counties—Orange and Shasta—develop model teams of educators to expand foster student services, oversee case management, and monitor student progress. And the CDE collaborates with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to share data and let districts know which of their students are foster youth so that they can be better served.
School districts are required to identify how they will use state funding to better serve foster youth in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), which are key tools for establishing goals to improve student outcomes and to align spending decisions with those goals.
Data released today confirm the need to focus attention on these students. For example, foster students scored lower on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress “Smarter Balanced” tests in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. More than three million students took the online tests this year in grades three through eight and grade eleven.
The percentage of foster students achieving at the lower score levels was much higher than the percentage of non-foster students. For English language arts, 3.9 percent of foster students exceeded standards compared to 16.3 percent for non-foster students. For mathematics, 2.5 percent of foster students exceeded standards compared to 14.3 percent for non-foster students.
The percentage of foster students achieving at the lower score levels was significantly higher. For English language arts, 56.2 percent of foster students did not meet standards (compared to 30.5 percent for non-foster students) and for mathematics, 64 percent of foster students did not meet standards (compared to 37.3 percent for non-foster students).
In 2015, the Legislature renamed an existing program the Foster Youth Services Coordinating (FYSC) program and gave CDE responsibility for contracting with two county offices of education to provide technical assistance, increase collaboration, and improve policies and practices for assisting foster students. County offices of education in Shasta County and Orange County are leading these efforts, which the other 56 counties across the state can follow and use to build up their own programs.
The reports can be viewed on DataQuest by selecting “foster” under the Student Demographics heading.
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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100