Local control has been a bedrock principle of public schooling in America since inception. In 2013, the California Legislature codified a new local accountability approach for school finance. An important component of the new California Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) approach is a focus on English learners (ELs). The law mandates that every school district produce a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to engage the local community in defining outcomes and determining funding for ELs.
This week Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA) just published a special issue, Education Finance and English Language Learners: Examining Challenges and Opportunities to Improve Education Policy and Practice, guest edited by Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos. EPAA/AAPE is a peer-reviewed, open-access, international, multilingual, and multidisciplinary journal designed for researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and development analysts concerned with education policies.
In this issue I published a new study seeking understand the impact of the new local accountability approach on English Learners with Lisa Romero (California State Sacramento) and Megan Hopkins (University of California San Diego). Based on an exploratory analysis of a representative sample of LCAPs, we show that, although California’s new approach offered an opportunity to support locally-defined priorities and alternatives to top-down accountability, few if any districts had yet took full advantage of the opportunity. That is, the school districts in our sample had not yet engaged with the local community to facilitate significant changes to accountability or redistribution of funding and resources to support educational equity for ELs.