Fulfilling the Promise of LCFF: Improving the LCAP

Early LCAP Implementation

Humphrey, D. C., & Koppich, J. E. (2014). Toward a grand vision: Early implementation of California’s local control funding formula. Available at https://www.sri.com/work/publications/toward-grand-vision-early-implementation-californias-local-control-funding-formula

This research brief captures findings from a study of the first year of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) implementation in ten California districts, as well as a review of 40 Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) from across the state. Researchers found that nearly all local- and state-level interview respondents reported positive reactions to the changes LCFF made to California’s funding formula, but feared that districts’ struggles would be misinterpreted as a call to repeal LCFF. In fact, despite troubles with the extensive and burdensome template, the LCAP process allowed districts opportunities for collaboration and resource allocation that had not been part of district practice prior to LCFF. Additionally, the authors emphasize that the LCAP process requires new involvement from county offices and community stakeholders, and improvement in these arenas will require capacity building—especially for districts with fewer resources. The researchers conclude by emphasizing how historically significant LCFF reforms were to the state’s school finance system and highlighting the hope that the state will stay committed to the work that remains.

California Collaborative on District Reform. (n.d.). First-Year LCAP implementation: A summary of five reports. [Summary literature review of briefing materials for November 12-13, 2015, meeting of the California Collaborative on District Reform]. San Mateo, CA: Author. Available at this link.

In 2014 and 2015, several organizations and researchers conducted studies on districts’ first year LCAPs—created using the since-revised 2014 template—in an effort to document shared challenges and best practices. This short piece, compiled by the California Collaborative staff, summarizes findings, reflections, and recommendations from five of these reports. Four of the five reports evaluated the content of districts’ LCAPs, and three of the reports also include results from interviews of district and/or state level leaders. Three of the reports included were authored by representatives of advocacy groups (Californians Together, The Education Trust-West, and Public Advocates), one by a government agency (Legislative Analyst's Office), and one by a research organization (Public Policy Institute of California). Among the most consistent recommendations were for districts to provide more clarity in the LCAP about how their funds are spent and how their actions support their goals, and for the state to provide more clarity on their guidance to and expectations of districts.