Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

New Accountability System Seeks to Align State & Federal Requirements

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 07.16.17

Rulers, protractor and compass

The California State Board of Education has been working diligently over the last several years establishing a new K-12 school accountability system for California. Effort aims to synthesize and make accessible a wealth of state and local data to help schools achieve better outcomes for California students. The work is an improvement on past models that have focused exclusively on test scores. Trustees recognize one test taken on one particular day doesn't provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed.

Board members have focused on developing metrics that provide useful information on how schools are addressing student needs within the guidelines of legislative statutes.  Known as the ‘California Model,’ measures from eight Local Control Funding Formula priority areas are used. Trustees are continuing a thoughtful and deliberate process to integrate accountability requirements from the Federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into California’s system.

Board President Michael Kirst sees work with the new accountability system as an on-going effort. The California Department of Education shared the first working version of the accountability system in Spring 2017 through a web resource formally called the ‘California School Dashboard.’ This version of the ‘Dashboard’ is best seen as an early model of the accountability system that will be fully implemented after feedback and adjustments. CDE officials note that additional metrics will be added over time. Plans are set to update the information in the California School Dashboard annually each Fall with the next due in November 2017.

The Dashboard is part of California’s Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts and schools more flexibility in using state and local resources in exchange for greater accountability. Through the Dashboard, districts and schools have access to the information they need to make the best local decisions about the education of children. Districts can use information from the dashboard to guide equity efforts and ensure learning is happening for all students.

Integration of Federal Requirements
Newly revised Federal legislation for K-12 schools, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), comes into effect in the 2017-2018 school year. California is currently constructing their plan to meet federal requirements with ESSA. The California State Board of Education has been very explicit in their direction to California Department of Education staff writing the new ESSA state plan. Trustees have expressed a goal to create a single, coherent system that avoids the complexities of having separate state and federal accountability structures.

More specifically, the State Board of Education has asked those developing California’s ESSA plan proposal work with the following guiding principles:

  • State priorities and direction lead the plan with opportunities in the ESSA leveraged to assist in accomplishing goals and objectives.
  • Use the ESSA State Plan to draw further focus to California’s commitment to the implementation of rigorous state standards, equity, local control, performance, and continuous improvement.
  • Refresh applications, plans, and commitments to ensure that local educational agencies are evidencing alignment of federal funds to state and local priorities.
  • Leverage state administrative funds to realign California Department of Education (CDE) operations to state priorities.
  • Strategically approach state-allowed reservations from Title programs to further state priorities.

State Board of Education President Kirst offers perspective on these transformative times for public schools and K-12 accountability: “We ask for your patience, persistence, and participation in implementing, refining and continually updating this system. It will shine a light on a broad range of indicators, promote equity, and help all schools, districts, teachers, and parents achieve our common goal: helping students succeed in the 21st century.”

Additional Information

California School Dashboard- Sonoma County Office of Education

Every Student Succeeds Act- California Department of Education

Every Student Succeeds Act- United States Department of Education


Blog: Technology for Learners