**California Collaborative on District Reform. (2017). The role of county offices of education in an LCFF context: A synthesis. [Synthesis of three publications about the role of county offices of education for December 14–15, 2017, meeting of the California Collaborative on District Reform]. Available at https://cacollaborative.org/sites/default/files/The_role_of_county_offices_of_education_in_an_LCFF_context_A_synthesis.pdf
The 2013 passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) introduced new expectations for county offices of education (COE). Despite receiving little direction for how to do so, COEs have attempted to provide districts with technical assistance to develop Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs). This document summarizes the findings and recommendations of three reviews focused on the role of COEs in the early implementation of. Among the common findings are that COEs vary in their capacity and the scope of the support they provide, they lack clarity about their roles with regard to the LCAP process, and they lack authority to achieve the full potential of the LCAP process.
Two pieces summarized here, Re-envisioning County Offices of Education and Strengthening Local K-12 Accountability, are included in this reading list.
Collins, N., & Kapphahn, K. (2017). Re-envisioning county offices of education: A study of their mission and funding. Available at [California] Legislative Analyst’s Office website: http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/ 2017/3547/reenvision-coes-020617.pdf
This report describes the role of California COEs, discusses funding changes introduced through LCFF, and provides recommendations for changes in funding structures to most efficiently support COEs and districts. The authors first detail the major responsibilities of COEs: facilitating alternative education for incarcerated students and those on probation or expelled from their school district; overseeing district budgets, academic plans, and appeals; and providing technical or support services to school districts. Since the implementation of the LCFF in 2013-14, COEs receive more money from the state, enjoy more flexibility in spending, and are responsible for approving districts’ LCAPs. The authors find that with this new flexibility, COEs now spend less on juvenile court schools than allotted by the LCFF and more on optional services. In order to incentivize provision of high-quality services and to hold districts accountable for all students, the authors ultimately recommend shifting much of the LCFF funding and associated responsibility to districts and encouraging fee-for-service arrangements between districts and COEs.
Warren, P. (2016). Strengthening local K–12 accountability: The role of county offices of education. Available at Public Policy Institute of California website: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/ report/R_816PWR.pdf
With the passage of LCFF, COEs are now tasked with more substantive involvement in district improvement. This brief details three challenges and attendant solutions for COEs’ expanded role. First, existing LCFF statute does not account for districts who may write LCAPs that meet the requirements, but fail to realize the intent, of the law. To address this, county offices should ensure that district plans outline a meaningful strategy before approving a plan. Second, the law as currently written does not outline how to support struggling districts. County offices should work with those districts to provide them with additional support, such as evaluating district strengths and weaknesses and providing appropriate technical assistance. Third, COEs themselves have varying capacity and there is no plan to support their development. The author recommends that the state build COE capacity as well as establish a county office grant program to provide deeper support to districts who may need it.
**California Collaborative on District Reform. (2017). Summary of The evolving role of the state education agency in the era of ESSA and Trump. [Summary document for December 14–15, 2017, meeting of the California Collaborative on District Reform]. Available at https://cacollaborative.org/sites /default/files/Summary_of_The_evolving_role_of_the_state_education_agency_in_the_era_of_ESSA_and_Trump.pdf
Weiss, J., & McGuinn, P. (2017, September). The evolving role of the state education agency in the era of ESSA and Trump: Past, present, and uncertain future (CPRE Working Paper). Available at University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons website: http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=cpre_workingpapers
This paper begins with an overview of the evolving role of state education agencies (SEAs) and an examination of critical issues in organizing and resourcing SEAs for success under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It then turns to an examination of the range of essential and potential roles for SEAs in the ESSA era. Weiss and McGuinn put forth five areas in which they believe SEAs should take leading roles: (1) articulating the state’s educational vision and goals; (2) selecting and implementing the state’s standards and assessments; (3) designing and implementing the state’s accountability system; (4) administering, implementing, and overseeing state and federal funding and other programs; and (5) communicating about critical educational issues with stakeholders. They also argue that SEAs should refrain from taking on three other roles: micro-managing districts or displacing local authority; driving resources to ineffective programs; and standing alone as the messengers of policies, goals, issues, and plans.
For your convenience, the Collaborative staff has prepared a two page summary of this CPRE paper, followed by the paper itself.
**This document is considered a priority reading.