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Strategic Planning and the LCAP Process

Fullan, M. (2015). California’s golden opportunity: LCAP’s theory of action—problems and corrections. Motion Leadership. Available at _California_LCAPs-Theory-of-Action.pdf

In this piece, Fullan identifies three major issues with California’s implementation of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process and offers recommendations for improving it. First, he writes that strategic planning is most effective with a constant focus on a few, targeted goals, but the LCAPs districts produced during the first year do not facilitate this. Compounding this issue, the state’s requirements for excessive detail needed to complete an LCAP make districts’ planning unnecessarily complicated. Third, the author asserts that districts’ primary efforts are being used to comply with LCAP regulations instead of fulfilling the actions and services that improve student learning. To resolve these problems, Fullan calls for three corrections. His first suggestion is for districts to identify the primary goals that will focus their work. Based on the evidence they provide in their LCAP, it should be obvious why they selected these particular goals. The next step is for districts to illustrate how they plan to achieve and measure progress towards their goals. Third, all stakeholders should be clear about how they will be held accountable for the progress made. Despite the state’s size, diversity, and wide range of stakeholders, Fullan argues that California can better leverage the LCAP to support districts’ visions and outcomes for student learning.

Reeves, D. (2007-2008). Leading to change: Making strategic planning work. Educational Leadership, 65 (4). Available at

This article underscores the importance of concise and focused plans as part of effective strategic planning process. Based on a review of more than one hundred strategic plans from schools, central office departments, and districts, Reeves reveals that strategic plans that rated higher on 20 different dimensions of planning, implementing, and monitoring were associated with higher student achievement and greater achievement gains. Building on these findings, the author contends that school leaders must decide early on whether the strategic planning process is a tool to improve student achievement or an end in itself; distinguishing between the two can help identify core areas of improvement which furthermore shape clearly focused and transparent goals and rubrics. Overall, the author underscores the potential power of one-page district strategic plans for the focus, simplicity, and utility they can provide when done effectively. In addition to establishing a succinct and more focused plan, the author indicates the importance of consistent monitoring and evaluation both in the goal making process and in maximizing the impact of strategic planning for results.