This is an excerpt of On Assignment, education writer Theresa Harrington's blog on Contra Costa County schools. Read more and post comments at IBABuzz.com/onassignment. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa or Facebook.com/TheresaHarringtonBANG.

June 6

Time is running out for local school districts to adopt new plans for the future showing the public how they will spend state money to meet student goals. School boards must adopt the plans by July 1.

This month, districts throughout the state are holding public hearings to review their draft plans before finalizing them. School districts were required to seek input from parents, staff and community members regarding their priorities for meeting the needs of students, especially low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

Now is the time to look for your district's plan on its website and to email your superintendent and school board if you have questions or suggestions. You can also attend school board meetings where your plans will be discussed and speak directly to trustees about your concerns.

Every plan must address eight state priorities:


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1. Basic services, including appropriately assigned and credentialed teachers, availability of appropriate instructional materials and facilities in good condition;

2. Common Core standards: implementation for all students including English learners;

3. Parental involvement, including seeking input and improving parent participation;

4. Student achievement, including test scores, English learner reclassification rates to proficiency, college-readiness and Advanced Placement courses taken;

5. Student engagement, including attendance, dropout and graduation rates;

6. School climate, including suspensions, expulsions and other data;

7. Broad course of study, including student access to all required curriculum areas;

8. Course of study outcomes: other indicators of student performance.

The Education Trust-West student advocacy group has developed a Local Control and Accountability Plan Evaluation Checklist to help parents and other community members review their district's plans to be sure they meet legal requirements and clearly communicate district goals and plans for achieving those goals.

It includes guiding questions aimed at ensuring your district is developing its plan in a transparent and coherent way.

Here are some sample questions from the checklist, broken into categories that must be included in the plans:

1: Stakeholder engagement

Legal requirements

-- Is a parent advisory committee reviewing the draft plan and providing written comments? Is the superintendent answering in writing?

-- Did the district consult with parents, students, teachers, principals, administrators, other school employees and local bargaining units?

Beyond minimum requirements

-- Did the district explain how it planned to incorporate community input into the plan?

-- Are the advisory committees comprised primarily of parents?

2: Goals and progress

Legal requirements

-- Did the district specify to which student groups each goal applies (e.g., all students, English learners, etc.)?

-- Did the district incorporate school-specific goals from school site plans?

Beyond the minimum

-- Are the goals specific enough that the district can measure progress toward achieving them?

-- Does the district have a clearly stated vision for how it plans to improve student success?

3: Goals, actions and expenditures

Legal requirements

-- Is it clear how much money has been budgeted for each action? Does the amount seem reasonable?

-- Did the district describe how it arrived at the amount of spending it is required to use to increase and improve services to high-need students?

Beyond the minimum

-- Are the proposed actions likely to help the district achieve the related goals?

-- Are the listed actions or services specific enough to convey exactly what the district will be doing or implementing?

The entire checklist is available by visiting http://fairshare4kids.org/toolkit. Click on "View Checklist."

How do you rate your district's plan according to the checklist?